The role of spirituality in the life of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The purpose of the study was to explore the role of spirituality in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, which was aimed at exploring the different spiritual beliefs held by that group of people and the importance of those beliefs in helping them to live with HIV/AIDS. A qualitative approach, using an exploratory research design was undertaken using twenty-five purposefully selected participants from the support group of people living with HIV/AIDS at Philani Clinic in King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban. Data were collected by utilizing focus-group interviews followed by one-on-one individual interviews. An audio tape recorder was used to record the interviews. Field notes and memos were also kept to strengthen the data and to ensure trustworthiness. The socio-demographic characteristics of participants were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 11.5) for Windows; the results are displayed in the form of tables, graphs, percentages and presented in the methodology section of chapter three. The qualitative data were transcribed and analyzed manually by assembling the transcript from each interview and utilized to form major themes, sub-themes, categories and sub-categories that emerged from the data. In this study spirituality was described as a four-dimensional cognitive (mental) relationship with the transcendent being/higher power/ultimate reality, a relationship of love, forgiveness and connectedness that is reinforced by one's belief system. The result of this relationship is the achievement of inner peace, which produced a general sense of wellness that is usually subjective. General wellness could be physical health, mental health, acceptance of things that one cannot change and quality of life. Common themes identified from the sample included spirituality, defined as a personal relationship with God or a higher power that facilitates love, forgivingness and connectedness; taking precaution, respecting the elders and believing in God for everything. HIV/AIDS was found not to be a curse from God, but an ordinary illness, even though other participants believed that it was God's plan to bring humanity back to Him, while others believed that it was a blessing. The study also found that HIV/AIDS could be prevented through the continuous use of condoms, faithfulness in marriage and abstinence, but some believed that its cure could only come from God after the accomplishment of the purpose for which He allowed the infection. However some study participants believed that the cure would be discovered through research. The benefit of the spiritual belief that helped participants to cope with the infection was the achievement of inner peace, which was achieved through restoration of relationships.