With the increasing rate of people becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, it is vital that we are aware of the importance of developing coping strategies to help these patients. It is evident that social support from friends, family and the community at large needs to be rendered to help these people infected with the disease. It also, however, needs to be noted, that social support may not always be useful for people living with HIV/AIDS. We will explore both aspects, good and bad, to social support and discuss the stigma attached to the disease. In most cases however, social support is viewed positively and actually benefits the person suffering with HIV/AIDS. The effects of social support will also never be the same or as effective as another due to the unpredictable nature and stages of the disease.
The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is one of the main reasons people suffering from the disease do not reach out in order to receive social support. HIV/AIDS is seen as the disease that is mainly to do with risky sexual behaviour such as prostitution, gay men and drug users. This stigma makes it hard for people suffering with the disease to accept the fact that they are HIV positive and also makes it more difficult to fight the epidemic globally (Avert.org, 2014). This adds to the list of many stressors arising once a person is infected with HIV/AIDS.
Some of the stressors these people suffering with HIV/AIDS might face are the diagnosis itself, unemployment, the breakdown of relationships and the ongoing treatment and illnesses that are linked to the disease. It is therefore important for these sufferers to have a chain of support. Each link would provide a different type of support namely emotional, informative and instrumental.
Social support is defined as the existence of people who we can rely on to love, value and care about us (Cohen and Syme, 1985). As mentioned before, social support is broken down into parts. Emotional support, refers to being cared for and shown love and affection. Instrumental support refers to receiving help with daily tasks undertaken by the person infected with the disease. Informative quite simply means providing the necessary information to help the person with their disease (Towey, 2013).
A study done by the American Psychosomatic Society reached a conclusion saying, “these data are among the first to demonstrate that more stress and less social support may accelerate the course of HIV disease progression” (Leserman, J., Jackson, E. D., Petitto, J. M., Golden, R. N., Silva, S. G., Perkins, D. O., Cai, J., Folds, J. D. & Evans, D. L., 1999). This therefore shows us the evident positive relationship between social support and the coping with HIV/AIDS. A person suffering with HIV/AIDS, according to this study, will therefore cope better with the disease if they receive social support. There have been many other studies that have found that social support has positively impacted patients for example a study was conducted...