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AIDS Care. 2003 Oct;15(5):595-613.

Stress buffering effects of family support in AIDS caregiving.

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles 90095, USA.


This study examines the effects of family support on AIDS caregiver stress over time, comparing HIV-positive and HIV-negative gay-identified men who care for a friend or partner living with HIV (PLWH). Support from the care-recipient's family of origin is assessed, and the stress buffering effects of this type of support are explored longitudinally within a stress proliferation framework for 276 men (114 were HIV-positive, 162 were HIV-negative). Among HIV-positive caregivers, emotional distress is associated with high caregiving stress and low PLWH family support. Emotional distress among HIV-negative caregivers is also associated with caregiving stress, but is not significantly influenced by support from the PLWH's family. For both groups, increasing emotional distress over a seven-month period is a function of increasing caregiver stress, but not PLWH family support. The effects of financial worry and role overload on caregiver emotional distress are conditional upon PLWH family support at Time 1 among HIV-positive caregivers, such that support buffers the distressing impact of financial worry, but may exacerbate the distressing impact of role overload. In addition to characterizing processes of stress proliferation and social support, this research also illustrates how families of choice and families of origin simultaneously shape the experience of the caregiving role and its influence on the wellbeing of gay men.

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