Finding Meaning: HIV Self-Management and Wellbeing among People Taking Antiretroviral Therapy in Uganda
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The health of people living with HIV (PLWH) and the sustained success of antiretroviral therapy (ART) programmes depends on PLWH’s motivation and ability to self-manage the condition over the long term, including adherence to drugs on a daily basis. PLWH’s selfmanagement of HIV and their wellbeing are likely to be interrelated. Successful self-management sustains wellbeing, and wellbeing is likely to motivate continued self-management. Detailed research is lacking on PLWH’s self-management processes on ART in resourcelimited settings. This paper presents findings from a study of PLWH’s self-management and wellbeing in Wakiso District, Uganda. Thirty-eight PLWH (20 women, 18 men) were purposefully selected at ART facilities run by the government and by The AIDS Support Organisation in and around Entebbe. Two in-depth interviews were completed with each participant over three or four visits. Many were struggling economically, however the recovery of health and hope on ART had enhanced wellbeing and motivated self-management. The majority were managing their condition well across three broad domains of self-management. First, they had mobilised resources, notably through good relationships with health workers. Advice and counselling had helped them to reconceptualise their condition and situation more positively and see hope for the future, motivating their work to self-manage. Many had also developed a new network of support through contacts they had developed at the ART clinic. Second, they had acquired knowledge and skills to manage their health, a useful framework to manage their condition and to live their life. Third, participants were psychologically adjusting to their condition and their new ‘self’: they saw HIV as a normal disease, were coping with stigma and had regained self-esteem, and were finding meaning in life. Our study demonstrates the centrality of social relationships and other nonmedical aspects of wellbeing for self-management which ART programmes might explore further and encourage.
- Medical and Health Sciences