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HIV Disclosure and Social Support; The Impact of HIV on Relationships

du Plessis, P. (2000). HIV Disclosure and Social Support; The Impact of HIV on Relationships. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


In order to gain a clearer understanding of how systems of social support operate for HIV infected patients, the present study undertook to explore the dynamics of such systems as they were found to be operating for attendees at a central London Hospital HIV clinic. The aim was to gain an insight into the nature of such support systems. Two separate, yet convergent investigations were conducted in order to achieve this. Firstly, an initial investigation explored specific characteristics of HIV patient disclosure patterns. The approach used has previously been reported (Bor and du Plessis, 1997) and offers a non-prescriptive entree into understanding who is identified by the HIV patient as a source of support. In addition, this approach offers a view of the HIV patient’s perception of strengths in these various relationships. Secondly, acknowledging the reciprocal nature of the patient-supporter interaction, a further qualitative study was conducted. This second study aimed to improve the in-depth understanding of how those individuals that comprise an HIV infected patient’s support nexus, perceive and understand their relationship with the HIV infected person. The outcome of these studies is likely to be relevant to an understanding of how HIV affects relationships and patterns of support. An improved understanding of how HIV affects social support systems enables HIV psychosocial service providers to provide better access to HIV services for all ‘family’ members. It also helps to identify the range of responses pertinent to the discovery of HIV in the ‘family’, for all concerned. Improved functioning of the family and social support system can in turn facilitate increased psychological well being for ‘family’ members and physical health for the HIV infected individual as a result of improved adherence to HIV medical treatment. The most salient findings of the two investigations will be drawn together and overall conclusions will be made in relation to both clinical practice and future research

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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