People living with HIV infection who attend and do not attend support groups: a pilot study of needs, characteristics and experiences.
People living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) confront a myriad of stressors over the course of their infection. Social support groups offer a means of addressing the support needs of people living with HIV. In the present study, 34 persons who had attended HIV support groups and 29 who had not attended groups completed measures of distress, coping, and social connectedness, and participated in open-ended interviews concerning their support group experiences. Results showed that those who attended support groups knew they were HIV-seropositive for a longer time, reported less emotional distress, and had more social contact than did non-attenders. However, non-attenders endorsed avoidant coping strategies to a greater extent. Analyses showed that time since testing positive accounted for differences between groups in social connectedness but not differences in anxiety, depression, or avoidance coping. Thus, HIV-seropositive persons become socially reconnected with time, but individuals with avoidant coping styles experience greater emotional distress and are unlikely to seek support groups. A sizeable proportion of people with HIV may therefore need supportive interventions, particularly nearer to the time that they test HIV-seropositive.
Kalichman, SC; Sikkema, KJ; Somlai, A
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)