Geographic health disparities have been well described in parts of Canada; however, little is known about the experiences of women living with HIV in the Maritime Provinces. This article focuses on the complex health system women living with HIV navigate geographically to access care in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.
This study includes interviews with 10 women living with HIV and 39 community-based workers whose organizations provide services to this group of women in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Purposive sampling was used to recruit both women living with HIV and community workers. Interviews were recorded and transcribed into a Microsoft word document. Transcripts were imported into NVivo 11 for thematic analyses and used to map the services women with HIV were accessing in their communities in ArcGIS 10.2 for Windows.
The study found that there are a number of barriers women with HIV face in the Maritime Provinces, including the low number of specialist physicians, long travel distances to major urban centers for care, and the loss of HIV-specific supports and resources. In response to these difficulties, community-based organizations are leading efforts in their communities to increase outreach programs and the number of available peer workers to improve the health outcomes of women living with HIV. Furthermore, it showed that women living with HIV and community workers were interested in creating a women-centered HIV care system in the Maritime Provinces, but were uncertain how to move forward with this initiative.