A detailed analysis of the social support networks of older adults with HIV in Uganda and South Africa

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Aging with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa: Health and Psychosocial Perspectives


Research on older people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa finds high rates of comorbidity in addition to HIV, suggesting they will require increasing assistance from informal social networks. Data are scarce on social network dynamics of older people with HIV in the region, and research is needed to understand how their social networks provide support as they age. To address this gap, we examined social support resources among older people with HIV from Uganda (n = 101) and South Africa (n = 108). There were several significant differences between these two populations in the composition of their social networks, support provided, and perceptions of social support sufficiency. In general, older people with HIV in Uganda tended to report having larger networks in more frequent contact, which may reflect their greater likelihood of rural residence and lower likelihood of family migration for economic opportunities compared to their South African peers. Despite high levels of informal support in both countries, a sizable proportion felt that support from family and friends was insufficient to meet their needs. Given the limited government and community-based services targeting older people with HIV in this region, policy and program initiatives to bolster support are sorely needed.

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