Facing HIV and AIDS : understanding family support within a rural KwaZulu-Natal community.
This study on, ‘Facing HIV and AIDS: Understanding family support within a rural Kwazulu-Natal community’ aimed to explore how an HIV/AIDS diagnosis affects the family as a whole and to determine the role of the family as a primary support system. Although HIV and AIDS infects individuals, it also affects entire families. The researcher employed a qualitative research design to gain in-depth and rich data, and to hear the stories of all participants. The study is grounded in the systems theory and the risk and resilience theory framework. For purposes of clarity, much of the work was divided into the different levels of the systems theory. Risk and resilience aspects were identified in relation to the various themes. It was necessary to explore this topic, not only from the perspective of individuals living with HIV and AIDS, but also from the perspective of their family and community. Three sets of data were therefore utilised: interviews with individuals living with HIV and AIDS, interviews with family members of an individual living with HIV and AIDS, and a once-off focus group discussion to gain the perspective of community members. This helped to ensure sample and instrument triangulation. The type and amount of support that was offered affected the stigma experienced; and affected individual fears and goals, willingness to disclose and the utilisation of available services in the community. It was clear that receiving support reciprocally affected individuals, family and the community. The experience of not being supported resulted in aspects of risk – for example, being more vulnerable in the face of stigma and discrimination. The importance of family support was thus found to be vital in facing the HIV and AIDS journey with resilience. Recommendations are provided at micro, mezzo and macro levels. This study also hopes to assist service providers to provide the necessary services.
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