PloS one 2016 07 2211(7) e0159488 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0159488
Spirituality/religion serves important roles in coping, survival and maintaining overall wellbeing within African cultures and communities, especially when diagnosed with a chronic disease like HIV/AIDS that can have a profound effect on physical and mental health. However, spirituality/religion can be problematic to some patients and cause caregiving difficulties. The objective of this paper was to examine the role of spirituality/religion as a source of strength, resilience and wellbeing among sub-Saharan African (SSA) migrant women with HIV/AIDS. A qualitative study of SSA migrant women was conducted between April 2013 and December 2014. Participants were recruited through purposive sampling and snowball techniques from AIDS Reference Centres and AIDS workshops in Belgium, if they were 18 years and older, French or English speaking, and diagnosed HIV positive more than 3 months beforehand. We conducted semi-structured interviews with patients and did observations during consultations and support groups attendances. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. 44 women were interviewed, of whom 42 were Christians and 2 Muslims. None reported religious/spiritual alienation, though at some point in time many had felt the need to question their relationship with God by asking "why me?" A majority reported being more spiritual/religious since being diagnosed HIV positive. Participants believed that prayer, meditation, regular church services and religious activities were the main spiritual/religious resources for achieving connectedness with God. They strongly believed in the power of God in their HIV/AIDS treatment and wellbeing. Spiritual/religious resources including prayer, meditation, church services, religious activities and believing in the power of God helped them cope with HIV/AIDS. These findings highlight the importance of spirituality in physical and mental health and wellbeing among SSA women with HIV/AIDS that should be taken into consideration in providing a caring and healthy environment.