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This study conducted an integrative review of 29 articles to assess and compare emerging themes in the social network component of rural versus urban-dwelling older people living with HIV (OPLWH). Themes discovered in both rural and urban-based literature were similar, and revealed perceived lack of social networks and social support, heightened stigma, fragmented social support, and increased social isolation among OALWH. Unlike urban communities, rural OALWH faced added challenges such as socioeconomic burdens, lack of quality healthcare facilities, and inadequate HIV resources. They also assessed the benefit and barriers to social networks for rural and urban OPLWH. Some of the benefits identified include, increase in health, wellbeing, and accomplishment of life task in older adults. Stigma, fear of disclosure, and violation of confidentiality were identified as barriers to social networking and social inclusion among OPLWH.
Summary By Stephen E. Karpiak PhD, ACRIA and NYU College of Nursing