Help-seeking in a context of AIDS stigma: understanding the healthcare needs of people with HIV/AIDS in China
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Despite the rapid increase of HIV infection cases in China, the majority of this population have not yet accessed AIDS-related healthcare services. Most current research in China focuses on HIV prevention and disease control, and pays inadequate attention to the barriers facing HIV-infected individuals in accessing and adhering with healthcare services. This article, as part of a research project on the illness experiences of people with HIV/AIDS in China, aimed to explore these individuals' healthcare experiences, shedding light on the gaps between their needs and existing healthcare services. Data for this qualitative study were collected through individual in-depth interviews with 21 HIV-infected adults in China. The results of data analysis suggest that these individuals' healthcare experiences were greatly affected by social discrimination and the limitations of healthcare resources. While AIDS stigma has reduced the social resources available for this population, HIV-related health institutions were perceived by them as an indispensable source of social support. It is concluded that healthcare institutions, as one of the few places in which HIV-infected people are willing to disclose their HIV positive status, should incorporate social care into healthcare service development and delivery so as to facilitate this population's accessing healthcare services and to address their unmet needs that go beyond the conventional scope of health care. Improving the visibility of people with HIV/AIDS in health care will also have a long-term impact on their own well-being and on HIV prevention in China.
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