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AIDS Care. 2005 Nov;17(8):978-87.

Families living with HIV.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


Given the historical emergence of the AIDS epidemic first among gay men in the developed world, HIV interventions have primarily focused on individuals rather than families. Typically not part of traditional family structures, HIV-positive gay men in Europe and the US lived primarily in societies providing essential infrastructure for survival needs that highly value individual justice and freedom. Interventions were thus designed to focus on at-risk individuals with programmes that were age and gender segregated. As the epidemic has unfolded, the early focus on individuals has become inadequate: families live with HIV, not just individuals. Families' structure, economy, migration patterns, and developmental life cycles are affected by HIV, and these changes radiate throughout the community creating parallel stresses. Family-based, intergenerational models of detection, prevention and treatment services offer enhanced opportunities for effective interventions and suggest very different intervention settings and strategies. However, these models also require addressing the family's basic needs for survival and security in order to be successfully implemented and sustained over time. As HIV was an opportunity for marginalized persons in the developed world to 'turn their life around', the strengths of families in the developing world may be mobilized to contribute to the community's long-term health, survival and security needs.

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