Psychosocial Differences Between Urban and Rural People Living With HIV/AIDS

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Journal of Rural Health

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During the past decade, many investigations have examined the life circumstances of people living with HIV disease. Most of these studies, however, have focused on HIV‐infected people in large metropolitan areas. This study compares the psychosocial profiles of rural and urban people living with HIV disease. Anonymous, self‐administered surveys were completed by 276 people with HIV/AIDS in a Midwestern state. The assessment instrument measured respondents' quality of life, perceptions of loneliness, social support, experiences with AIDS‐related discrimination, access to services, and illness‐related coping strategies. Compared with their urban counterparts, rural people with HIV reported a significantly lower satisfaction with life, lower perceptions of social support from family members and friends, reduced access to medical and mental health care, elevated levels of loneliness, more community stigma, heightened personal fear that their HIV serostatus would be learned by others, and more maladaptive coping strategies. Programs that are designed to improve the life circumstances of people with HIV disease in rural areas—particularly those that facilitate access to adequate health care, increase perceptions of social support, and improve illness‐related coping—are urgently needed.


Journal of Rural Health, Vol. 14, No. 2 (March 1998): 138-145. DOI.