A Qualitative Analysis of Family Support in HIV Care Management for Adolescents Living with HIV in Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: South African adolescents living with HIV (ALWH) experience elevated risk for poor HIV-related outcomes due to challenges associated with HIV disease management. While previous research suggests that social support may mitigate poor HIV-related outcomes, we know little about the specific types of family social support that help ALWH achieve better health outcomes or how this support might be better facilitated. This study aimed to address this gap by characterizing the types of social support provided by family members to assist ALWH in their HIV care management.Methods: We conducted fifty-nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with ALWH (n=20), their caregivers (n=19), and community stakeholders (n=20) in Cape Town, South Africa. Using deductive and then inductive thematic methods, we triangulated data from these three groups in NVivo to qualitatively analyze family social support. Results: We identified four types of family social support: instrumental support, appraisal support, emotional support, and informational support. Families provided crucial instrumental support through treatment reminders and attending clinic appointments with ALWH. Families also acted as strong sources of appraisal support to help ALWH reflect upon the importance of medication adherence by promoting future orientation and HIV normalization. Similarly, families facilitated adherence through emotional support, such as motivating ALWH and demonstrating interest in their health. Lastly, families offered informational assistance to educate adolescents about managing HIV treatment challenges, such as side effects. Conclusion: In characterizing family social support, our findings highlight sources of struggle and possible solutions to the challenges that ALWH face in their HIV care. Our results suggest that ALWH and providers rely heavily on families to distribute these four types of support in HIV care, emphasizing the importance of exploring how to better facilitate and replicate this support. Understanding these types of social support is a crucial step to identifying potential gaps in care and possible intervention strategies. As such, future research should inquire about the efficacy of incorporating these types of social support into interventions to assist ALWH in their HIV care management.






Malo, Vincenzo Francis (2021). A Qualitative Analysis of Family Support in HIV Care Management for Adolescents Living with HIV in Cape Town, South Africa. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23136.


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