Home Institution

Southwestern University

Publication Date

Spring 2005

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health


This paper primarily explores the importance of the support group for people infected and affected by HIV+/AIDS. At St. Matthew’s Clinic in the rural area of Qoboqobo, I invited women between the ages of 25-49 to freely participate in the focus group discussions. I believe that the health care sector could benefit from these groups, both as formal outreach services and informal support networks. There is a lack of healthcare services in rural areas. Of particular interest, PLWA are continuously encouraged to join an HIV/AIDS support group. This paper aims to explore how people are dealing with stress and HIV/AIDS-related dementia and other psychological impacts. In trying to understand the high rate of unemployment in Qobo Qobo in March 2005, I found an HIV/AIDS support group that works toward self-sustenance. However, there are many HIV+ clients who are not yet in the support group. I want to know how support group members are being educated to decrease stress related to living with HIV/AIDS. Objectives of the study include finding how support groups for HIV/AIDS aid in their mental health. The case study also had the following objectives: a) to explore the psychosocial benefits of an HIV/AIDS support group; b) to establish rapport with the PLWA Support Group at St. Matthew’s Clinic; c) to provide agency to those involved in order to address the major mental health concerns through focus group discussions and key informant interviews; and d) to identify what all involved parties are doing to address mental health problems, including nurses, HIV counsellors, provincial government and members of the community. These women, the social worker and all nurses interviewed at S.S. Gida Hospital and St. Matthew’s Clinic noted that HIV/AIDS definitely has a negative psychological impact on the person living with HIV/AIDS, family members and society as a whole. Shock and stress-related illnesses were the most cited as affecting a person’s mental well-being. Also mentioned by the group members and professionals was depression resulting from the stigma of HIV/AIDS and from the loss of a loved one. Despite the presence of dementia and the loss of motor functioning in the late stages of AIDS, few mentioned this AIDS trait as being a mental health problem.


Health Services Administration | Medicine and Health Sciences


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