HIV/AIDS-related beliefs among Israeli Arab-Palestinian women

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Studies show that women are more vulnerable to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission than men because of biological and sociocultural risk factors. Israeli Arab-Palestinians are the largest ethnic minority group in Israel. Unofficial data suggest that merely one percent of the tests conducted in Israel to diagnose HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are conducted by this population and that Israeli Arab-Palestinians are typically diagnosed late. Arab communities in Israel were found to be predominately patriarchal, characterised by conservative gender roles and structures, and the policing of overt sexual behaviours, particularly those of women. In order to advance our understanding of the HIV/AIDS phenomenon in different sociocultural contexts, as well as to design effective cultural-sensitive interventions, we must first understand how HIV/AIDS is constructed in different cultural sites. Against this backdrop, this exploratory study examines HIV/AIDS-related beliefs among non-infected, Israeli Arab-Palestinian women. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 women. Thematic content analysis was used in order to analyse the data. Five themes emerged from the analysis, in the first, personal responsibility and blame were assigned to people with HIV/AIDS for their illness. In the second theme, HIV/AIDS was constructed as a sexually transmitted disease, associated with ‘deviant’ sexuality and sexual conduct in the Arab culture. In the third theme, HIV/AIDS was believed to be transmitted by multiple, mostly mistaken, modes of contact. In the fourth theme, people with HIV/AIDS were believed to be subjected to severe negative social responses. In the fifth theme, individuals with HIV/AIDS were depicted as a symbol of physical and psychological malaise. In conclusion, the findings imply that Israeli Arab-Palestinian women hold negative beliefs concerning people with HIV/AIDS and are misinformed regarding HIV transmission. This suggests a need to design culturally appropriate interventions to address stigma-related beliefs and misconceptions concerning transmission, among Israeli Arab-Palestinian women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-224
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • HIV/AIDS-Human Immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Israeli Arab-Palestinians
  • beliefs
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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