THE NEED FOR POSITIVE LIVING AMONG PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV. A CASE STUDY OF HARARE’S HATCLIFFE EXTENSION SUBURB.
Matsika, Abel Blessing
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The purpose of this study is premised on the basis that in the absence of a cure for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) the emphasis is on living positively with HIV, a term used to describe leading a normal, non-risky life while following preventive and supportive measures to live longer though infected with HIV. This study aimed at assessing the nature and scope of services available to People Living With HIV (PLWH) in Hatcliffe Extension Suburb, to identify and profile hindrance factors that prevent PLWH to access the above referred services and live positively in general. The study also aimed at proposing solutions to identified challenges faced by PLWH in their quest to living positively. The research methodology was qualitative and purely exploratory involving 54 participants. 50 of them were PLWH while the other 4 were key informants. Four (4) Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted; in-depth interviews were used with key informants and case studies for participants who were sampled from the FGDs. The study focused on just one suburban setting with a cohesive support group network while the participants were purposively selected. The research findings revealed that there is in existence some infrastructure to cushion PLWH. These include free Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) services, existence of the National AIDS Council (NAC) among others. It also emerged from the results of the study that PLWH were aware of the need for positive living and were consciously and actively pursuing it. However, their efforts were being hampered by an array of social, economic, cultural and structural challenges. Chief among them were stigma, lack of income to access good nutrition, culturally driven women sexual disempowerment and the bottlenecks that were encountered in early access to anti-retroviral therapy and other related medical services. The study concluded that in order to ensure the full realization of positive living by PLWH, there is need to address the barriers to positive living. It was recommended that service providers as well as media practitioners should highlight how some cultural beliefs and behaviors contribute in complicating life for PLWH. The study also recommended that organizations which cater for PLWH together with all the relevant stakeholders should aim to address the challenges to positive living. Dissemination of information should be tailor made to address how different age groups and sexes should live positively considering their unique challenges.