174 chapter 8: Sexual health
Protecting your privacy
Any woman should be able to make her own decisions about who to tell about her
HIV status and how to tell them. It is important for a woman to talk with her sexual
partner or partners, so they can also be tested or protect their health. Many women
tell their families and others who support them. But often, women are afraid
everyone in the community will find out.
It can be difficult for a woman with a disability to have a private conversation
with a health worker. This may be because:
• the health worker has never learned that a woman with a disability should be
treated with the same respect as any woman.
• the health worker will tell the family or friends of a woman with a disability
about her health problems, including HIV or an STI, without telling the
woman herself. This is especially true if the disabled woman has difficulty
• the woman’s family will not let the woman see a health worker by herself.
Because I am deaf, I often have
trouble with privacy, especially when
I use an interpreter to speak with a
The interpreter who works at the
clinic I go to knows that whatever
the health worker and I talk about is
confidential and private. She will never
tell anyone—not even another health
worker—what we have talked about.
If I take my own interpreter with
me, I remind her ahead of time
that whatever I talk about with
the health worker is private. I
try to make sure the interpreter
understands that the test
results are private. I ask her not
to tell anyone else—not even my
family—without my permission.
health problems caused by HIV/AIDS
A person with AIDS can get sick very easily from many different common health
problems. Here is some general information about some of these problems, but it is
best to talk to a health worker or see a book like HIV, Health and Your Community for
more information. The most common health problems caused by HIV/AIDS are:
Fever: Fevers often come and go. It is hard to know if the fever is from an
infection that can be treated, like tuberculosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID),
or malaria, or if it is from HIV itself. If the fever is caused by an infection, then make
sure the infection itself is treated.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007