An analysis of the mental health of families affected by HIV/AIDS in Rwanda.
HIV/AIDS is no longer seen as an individual problem as it also affects the family as a whole. The purpose of this study is to purpose of analysing the mental health of family affected by HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. It should be noted that there were not studies conducted on the mental health of the affected families in Rwanda. A qualitative approach using case study design was used to describe the mental health of affected family in Rwanda. HIV/AIDS-related stressors, emotional reactions of family members and coping strategies they adopt to deal with those stressors and emotional reactions were studied. The effects of those reactions and strategies on the infected family member as well as the entire family were analysed. A purposive sampling was used to select two families from Mwana Ukundwa Association for the study. The findings of the study showed multiple losses, care, and socio-economic demands as the main stressors for both cases. Emotional reactions to those stressors included shock, anger, sadness, hopelessness, depression, fear and shame. Participants reported using both emotional and problem-focused coping strategies. Compassion, caring and showing concern had positive effects on the infected and affected as well as family members, whereas emotional reactions such as anger, unhappiness, and discouragement had negative effects on the entire family. Positive effects of family reactions and strategies to cope were associated with coping strategies such as; having opportunity to talk: to someone, distraction, family relationships, spiritual support, treatment, and socio-economic support. Ineffective strategies included family communication dysfunction due to withdrawal behaviour, alcohol abuse and going to nightclubs. These strategies had negative effects on both infected and affected family members. The results suggest that health professionals such as nurses, doctors and other healthcare providers should use a holistic approach in caring for infected family members. They should not only provided family care, but also include the family in planning to care for the infected family member. This will empower them to play a more effective role in home care-based.