Severe L, Fitzgerald DW, Deschamps MM, Reif L, Post K, Johnson WD, Pape JW, Boutin-Foster C. "I am proud of myself, just the way I am" (Mwen fyé de tét mwen, jan mwen ye ya): a qualitative study among young Haitian women seeking care for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Haiti. AIDS education and prevention : official publication of the International Society for AIDS Education. 2014 Apr;26(26). 158-69. PMID: 24694329 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC4270119 NIHMSID: NIHMS645676.
Haitian women are twice as likely as men to have HIV/AIDs. Factors underlying the feminization of HIV are complex. Self-esteem is an important correlate of sexual behavior. However, its meaning and impact on health behaviors may be influenced by cultural factors. This qualitative study took place in Haiti 4 months after the 2010 earthquake and examines the meaning of self-esteem among young Haitian women seeking treatment for a recurrent sexually transmitted infection (STI). The meaning of self-esteem was derived from a sense of gratitude and was rooted in their ability to provide for family. This may have led to behaviors such as not using condoms or having sex with partners in concurrent relationships. This article highlights the resilience and resourcefulness of Haitian women, provides insight into how women with apparent positive self-images were led to make choices that placed them at high risk for contracting HIV, and concludes with recommendations for future interventions.