The aim of our study was to determine experiences faced by individuals living with HIV over ten years in rural Eastern Uganda villages, their coping mechanisms and factors influencing their wellbeing. A focus group interview (n=9) was conducted in the Mbale district. Overall, three key themes emerged from the interview: 1) stigma, 2) support network and 3) (dis)empowerment. The discovery of having contracted HIV, that initially had a negative impact on the lives of the participants, seemed to have been a driving force on the empowering changes during the years. This qualitative study identified that with the relevant support and gaining financial independence, individuals, especially women, who experienced the shock, despair and disempowerment of being told that they were HIV positive were not only able to survive and carry-on living but were able to find a different freedom, independence and role within their families and close community.
empowerment; HIV; stigma; support network; Uganda; well-being