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HIV/AIDS support groups in Botha-Bothe, Lesotho : navigating discourses of prevention and care.

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This study explores how HIV and AIDS support groups in Botha-Bothe, Lesotho negotiated their understanding of discourses about HIV, its prevention and care. Data for this study was collected over a period of six months from three support groups at their monthly meetings in the Botha-Bothe Government Hospital in Lesotho. The purpose was to explore how Basotho made meaning from the information, education and communication they received from their health care workers (counsellors, nurses and pharmacists), the other support group members and from their social networks. The research was framed within the interpretive paradigm and used an explorative, multiple case study approach, through observation of the three support groups and their interactions. Data was collected through non-participant observation of the monthly meetings and digital recording of the participants’ discussions to ensure the support group members felt free to speak their minds during their learning and sharing process without interference from the researcher. Data was analysed using a descriptive, discourse analysis approach. Discourse analysis explored the nature of the participants’ interactions and the language they used to help them understand and interpret the medical discourses surrounding the prevention, care and treatment of HIV and AIDS. The data was then interpreted through the theoretical lenses of Communities of Practice, Social Capital and Transformative Learning. The findings highlighted that the support group meetings demonstrated strong elements of social capital in terms of mutual trust, reciprocity and different networks which could be categorised as bonding (close ties), bridging (using people known or connected to their communities) and linking (drawing on expertise from officials and external sources such as non-governmental organisations). The learning which took place relied heavily on sharing, seeking out information and bringing that information back to the support group meetings. Finally, the learning process was through dialogue and use of culturally relevant metaphors. This learning often followed the ten different phases of transformative learning as outlined by Jack Mezirow. Nevertheless, it was evident that not all participants reached the same stage of transformative learning and resultant behavioural change towards the prevention and care of HIV transmission. This means that ongoing dialogue is essential, but it must be done through culturally sensitive language and opportunities to interact and share experiences with others over extended periods of time.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.