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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social support available to those who test antibody positive for the human immunodeficiency virus Alexus, Lillian Marie


An estimated 50,000 Canadians have been exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus which causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Some of these individuals have been tested for the presence of HIV antibodies. For those whose antibody status has been confirmed seropositive, there are many concerns. One area of concern pertains to the social support available to them. The purpose of this study was to identify and compare the social support available to two groups. One group comprised homosexual males, aged 20 to 49 years, who had tested antibody positive for HIV. The other group included homosexual males, aged 20 to 49 years, who had not been tested for HIV antibodies and whose status was, therefore, unknown. A convenience sample included 10 known seropositive individuals and 13 persons who had not been tested. Participants from each group completed the Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire to indicate social support available to them. Network and functional properties of social support were similar for both groups. Loss of network members occurred more frequently for those who tested seropositive. Therefore, one could conclude that individuals who test HIV antibody positive may require more social support than those whose antibody status is not known. Demographic data were also collected and analyzed. One difference noted was that those who had not been tested participated more frequently in religious activities than those in the seropositive group. The findings were discussed in relation to each research question. Implications of the findings for nursing practice, education, and further research were then suggested.

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