Barriers to Participate in Support Groups for People Living with HIV: A Qualitative Study with Men Receiving Antiretroviral Treatment in a HIV Clinic in Mthatha, South Africa

  •  Sphiwe Madiba    
  •  Vuyokazi Canti-Sigaqa    


Support groups are the most common and popular way of providing social support for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). Nevertheless, HIV positive men are reluctant to attend support groups, and in most mixed gender support groups, women outnumber men. The study used a sample men accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART) from a HIV clinic in South Africa, to examine their perceptions of support groups and explore their reasons for nonparticipation in such groups. Five focus groups interviews were conducted with 50 HIV positive men. Their age ranged from 28-70 years, all had disclosed their HIV status to partners and family members and were receiving ART for more than a year. The main barriers for nonparticipation related to issues on support groups were; Unavailability of support groups in local communities which translated to, no access, the timing of meetings and lack of transport money. Fear of unintended disclosure of HIV status due to breach of confidentiality with resulting stigma and social rejection. On a personal level, participants felt that they had adequate support at home. Participants would consider participating if men only support groups are initiated, support groups are held on weekends, and they are provided with more information on support groups. Health care providers have a critical role to play in creating awareness of and education on the role of support groups for PLWHA. Support group planners should consider men only support groups which has been shown to have positive outcomes and facilitates member participation.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.