So you want to start a support group...
Good! We sure do need it. Women living with HIV are often challenged with fear of disclosure and a lack of adequate social support. Increasing social support and access to support resources can help with that. People who have not disclosed their status to anyone other than health care professionals may avoid stigma, but may also limit their own opportunities for social support, an important factor in coping and recovery from physical illness.
Why is social support important?
Research studies show that…
Adequate social support is one factor that may mediate the effects of HIV-related anxiety, and psychological stress.
People with HIV who are integrated in social networks have higher levels of psychological well being than those who are not, which in turn improves the overall quality of life of the individual.
Social relationships have powerful effects on physical and mental health and well-being.
Socially isolated or socially marginalized individuals are less healthy psychologically and physically, and more likely to die prematurely from illnesses.
Social and familial support can reduce stigma and improve medication adherence, a key factor in slowing HIV disease progression.
Social support buffers the impact of traumatic events on an individual.
Feminist research suggests that women with HIV/AIDS may use silence as a way to cope when they feel disempowered. For these women, silence and a lack of self-advocacy could lead to a poor quality of life or early death from the illness. Support groups assist HIV-positive women in adapting more positive coping skills, such as expressing feelings of anxiety and fear. Research consistently shows social support as a key protective element that positively impacts health related quality of life.