Social Networks of PLHA in Uganda

Implications for Mobilizing PLHA as Agents for Prevention

Published in: Aids and Behavior, v. 15, no. 5, July 2011, p. 992-1002

Posted on RAND.org on May 24, 2010

by Harold D. Green, Lynn Atuyambe, Sarah Ssali, Gery W. Ryan, Glenn Wagner

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The objective of this study was to describe the social networks of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and explore the implications social network characteristics might have for mobilizing PLHA as prevention agents. Thirty-nine PLHA attending an HIV clinic in Kampala, Uganda provided information on themselves and on 20 network members. Based on these data, descriptive statistics for social network composition and structure were calculated. Research questions relating these network characteristics to treatment-related variables such as time since diagnosis, ART status, and time on ART were investigated. Analyses reveal that, in general, network members know the PLHA's status, are trusted, provide advice and support, and are well-connected to each other. Network features (e.g., proportion of individuals who know the PLHA's status) are related to the previously mentioned treatment variables. Findings suggest that PLHA surround themselves with a social context that enables PLHA to feel fairly protected and supported if they choose to discuss HIV and prevention. With respect to treatment, those on ART may be better prepared to act as prevention advocates.

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