Most of the studies on HIV/AIDS health care status are usually conducted in big cities while small towns and rural areas are faced with specific challenges. This study aimed to identify the barriers and problems encountered by HIV-positive patients when receiving health services in the small cities and rural areas of Iran.


This is a qualitative study that was conducted using an interpretive phenomenology method in 2016. This study was conducted through a semi-structured interview for which a purposeful sampling method was used. In the present study, data saturation was observed after 15 interviews, but more than 17 interviews were conducted to ensure the reliability of the interview. Data were analyzed by Colaizzi's method using MAXQDA10 software.


Barriers and problems encountered by patients when receiving health care services consisted of 10 categories, 32 main themes and 67 sub-themes. The categories were as follows: fear of revealing the disease, fear of confronting providers, seeking support, not visiting health care providers, inappropriate behavior of health care staff, concealing the disease, hardship endurance, financial concerns, psychological stress and pressure, and disclosure of patient information.


Recognizing the problems of HIV-positive patients in using health care services and resolving them can help to reassure the patients about the health system. Introduction of supporting policies and regulations, appropriate public education, training health sector personnel, and provision of medical equipment and facilities would positively affect the process of solving the problems of HIV-Patients (treating HIV patients).

Keywords: HIV positive, patients’ problems, Health care services, phenomenology, Iran, Colaizzi’s methods.
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