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Professor Gillian Abel
Dr Lee Thompson


This research will explore the intersections between the experience of living with HIV, ageing and social isolation in Canterbury across time to inform planning for service delivery models. Research suggests that people are living longer with HIV and therefore as a group are getting older; more people are being diagnosed with HIV later in life; and there has been a trend in geographical movement of people living with HIV/AIDS from cities to rural areas. These factors all have an impact on access to support and health services. The qualitative longitudinal study will look at the lived experience of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Up to 20 PLWHA will be recruited to take part in the study. The AIDS Foundation has given their support to this research and has agreed to assist in recruitment. Two in-depth interviews with each participant will occur over a period of 18 months: soon after commencement of study and 15-18 months later. A photovoice method will be used with five of the participants. They will record visual diaries using a digital camera to document their experience of living with HIV. Contact with these participants will occur at four month intervals. The 'Friendship Scale' (Hawthorne, 2006), which is a validated psychometric scale, will be applied to measure dimensions important to social isolation and social connection. Each qualitative data collection period will be analysed separately to provide cross-sectional information. The entire data set will be analysed after the 18 month interview to provide a longitudinal perspective on aging, place and social isolation. Findings will be used to inform services locally in Canterbury; comparisons will be able to be made with PLWHA in Queensland; and the study will also be a pilot for a proposed larger national study of PLWHA.

Funded by Lottery Health Research

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