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Factors Associated with Attendance and Non-Attendance of Support Groups among HIV Positive Adults Attending an Antiretroviral Community Clinic at Ekurhuleni District, South Africa

Author(s): Sphiwe Madiba | Olga Kekana

Journal: World Journal of AIDS
ISSN 2160-8814

Volume: 03;
Issue: 02;
Start page: 111;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: South Africa; Disclosure | PLWHI; Support Groups; Participation; Barriers; ART

Health care facilities providing antiretroviral treatment (ART) to HIV positive people have seen a decline in the uptake and use of HIV support groups. A cross sectional survey was conducted to 1) determine the characteristics of HIV positive people who have and who have not attended support groups; 2) determine factors associated with attendance of support groups; and 3) investigate perceived barriers to participate in support groups among HIV positive adults attending an ART clinic in Gauteng, South Africa. The total samples included 248 HIV positive adults and the highest proportion were females (n = 156, 62.9%). The mean age of the participants was 34.2 years, (range 18 to 56 years). Almost two thirds (n = 144, 58.1%) had never attended support groups. Participants who attended support groups were more likely to be older than non-attenders (OR = 1.04, CI: 1.01 - 1.07), more likely to be taking ART medication (OR = 1.64, CI: 1.00 - 2.65) and more likely to have known of their HIV diagnosis for a longer time (OR = 2.20, CI: 1.42 - 3.40). Employed participants were less likely to attend support groups than unemployed participants (OR = 0.47, CI: 0.27 - 0.80). Concerns for privacy and confidentiality in support groups, and fear of stigma and discrimination were the key barriers to participate in support groups. Participants also perceived support groups as a service for people who could not cope with their HIV diagnosis. Health care providers who plan to start support groups should take into consideration issues of support group size, confidentiality, and timing for support group meetings. It is imperative that education on the benefits of HIV support groups forms a primary component of routine counselling for PLWHI.
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