As South Africa has a very high rate of HIV infections. The government has increased the availability of antiretrovirals to the individuals who have been diagnosed with this disease. Whereas the availability of the treatment increases there is a great amount of stressors that come with the diagnosis of this virus. Therefor there are other aspects that play a role in the treatment of HIV/AIDS such as environmental factors, stigmazation and social support. This essay will be discussing the role that social support plays in people with HIV/AIDS, the effects of social support and the theories on social support.
This essay will also be discussing the role of social support after an individual has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The related health decline and the stigma attached to this diagnosis. The diagnosis of HIV/AIDS leads to enormous amounts of stress to the individual that has been diagnosed with this chronic illness. Solomon (1987) as citied in Green (1993) hypnotizes that stress, psychological and social support can influence the pace at which HIV replicates and progresses to AIDS; therefor there is an indirect link between HIV/AIDS and social support.
According to Carver (1989) as cited in Koopman, Gore-Felton, Marouf Butler, Field, Gill, Chen, Israelski & Spiegel(2000) the lack of expression of motions, the withdrawal of one’s behaviour and the mental detachment to the world are the three most used coping tactics that are associated with the increasing levels of stress among people living with HIV. There are a lot of stigmas associated with HIV such as that it infects only certain kinds of people. Stigma refers to be bias, negative attitudes, abuse and mistreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS.
The consequences of stigma are widespread: being rejected by family, friends and even the community. “Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world. ” (Moon, 2010).
HIV/AIDS is a life-threatening illness, and therefore people react to it in strong ways. HIV infection is connected with actions (such as homosexuality, drug addiction, prostitution) that are already stigmatised in many communities many of this stigmatisation is caused by not being informed and the misconceptions that go along with HIV. The effects of the ARVs may cause individual to change appearance which may lead to discrimination based on appearance. HIV/AIDS is a very stressful life event with due to the diagnosis of the chronic event therefore one needs stable social support.
According to Friedland, Renwick and McColl (1996) social support reflects on the following types of supports: The kind of support in which the individual is provided with adequate services and goods and financial stability. The second support is where the individual who has HIV/AIDS is provided with all the information she needs regarding the condition she has, the third one is emotional support which is according to House (1981) the feeling that the individual is being cared for. Emotional support strengthens the feeling of self-worth and belonging and is also regarded as the most important one in terms of social support. Friedland et al.
(1996) suggests that health professionals could meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS more by developing semi-formal social support so that the burden from friends and family can be decreased. People with HIV/AIDS can be encouraged to attend counselling sessions provided by health professionals. Many communities prove that support provided by AIDS survivors, buddy-systems, support centres have decreased the gap between formal and informal social support significantly. Even if these kind of semi-formal support does not provide the closeness that friends provides, it provides a higher level of trust for the individuals with HIV/AIDS.
Schreurs and Ridder (1997) emphasizes that close relationships are unique therefor they cannot be replaced. According to Broadhead et al. (1983) in Green (1993) there is a positive association between social support and psychological assets which helps the individual who has HIV/AIDS cope with the illness and also promotes recovery. Green(1993) argues that the is no proof that show the concrete proof that show social support has an effect in the development of HIV. Riello (1990) states that it is more likely for death to occur in an individual who has been diagnosed with HIV in the past 12 months with no social support.
When the diagnosis is in its initial stages it is where the rate of its progression is the fastest and the individual who is being diagnosed is at his/her most vulnerable stage because they are still coming to terms with themselves having the disease. Based on these statements social support plays a big role in the physical health of an individual with HIV. Constructed on the research done by Persson (1991) there is an association between social support and an HIV positive individual’s low CD4 count.
There are also symptoms during the duration of the illness that are linked to weak social support. Social support is divided into two categories. The kind that is beneficial for the individuals who are experiencing stress. According to the buffering theory, social support protects people from the unhealthy effects of traumatic events by influencing how people think about and handle these kinds of events. According to stress and coping theory, events are stressful to the extent that individuals have negative thoughts about the events and cope unproductively.
This theory is called the buffering hypothesis. Willis (1985). The main theory is the one that is health improving to everyone. This theory is found when social support is intellectualized. Apparently this is not due to better coping actions but it promotes self-worth and the feeling of stability. In conclusion, it is debatable that there is a link between social support and the health improvement status in individuals living with HIV/AIDS even if it is minimal. As discussed above social support can have a negative effect when it comes to coping strategies.
Even if social support help people with HIV deal with the illness it does not play a significant role in the physical well-being of the individuals but it has a big considerable emotional impact. It can be concluded that social support increases the quality of life and self-esteem in people living with HIV/AIDS. Therefor it can be concluded that more research needs to be conducted to prove the definite correlate between social support and the diagnosis of HIV.
References Green, G. (1993). Editorial review: Social support and HIV. AIDS Care, 5(1), 87. Koopman, C. C. , Gore-Felton, C. C., Marouf, F. F. , Butler, L. D. , Field, N. N. , Gill, M. M. , & … Spiegel, D. D. (2000). Relationships of perceived stress to coping, attachment and social support among HIV-positive persons.
AIDS Care, 12(5), 663-672. Friedland, J. J. , Renwick, R. R. , & Mccoll, M. M. (1996). Coping and social support as determinants of quality of life in HIV/AIDS. AIDS Care, 8(1), 15-32. Schreurs, K. M. G. , de Ridders, D. T. D. (1997). Integration of coping and social support perspectives: Implications for the study of adaptation to chronic diseases. Clinical Psychology Review, 17(1), 89-112.