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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31795

Title: The Role of Social Networks in the Decision to Test for HIV
Authors: Jumbe, Clement Alexander David
Advisor: Quarter, Jack
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: Social Networks
HIV Testing
Network ties
Information flow
Social Network theory
Issue Date: 10-Jan-2012
Abstract: The major global concern of preventing the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) requires that millions of people be tested in order to identify those individuals who need treatment and care. This study’s purpose was to examine the role of social networks in an individual’s decision to test for HIV. The study sample included 62 participants of African and Caribbean origin in Toronto, Canada. Thirty-three females and 29 males, aged 16 to 49 years who had previously tested positive or negative for HIV, participated in interviews that lasted approximately 60 minutes. Measurement instruments adapted from Silverman, Hecht, McMillin, and Chang (2008) were used to identify and delimit the social networks of the participants. The instrument identified four social network types: immediate family, extended family, friends, and acquaintances. The study examined the role of these network types on the individuals’ decisions to get HIV testing. A mixed method approach (Creswell, 2008) was applied, and both qualitative and quantitative data were collected simultaneously. Participants listed their social networks and retrospectively described the role of their network members in influencing their decision to test for HIV. The participants’ narratives of the influence of social networks in HIV testing were coded. A thematic analysis of the qualitative descriptions of the network members’ influence was performed. The quantitative and the qualitative analysis results were then tallied. The results of the study demonstrated that the influence of social networks was evident in the individuals’ decisions to test for HIV. The most influential group was friends, followed in descending order of influence by immediate family, acquaintances, and extended family. These social network ties provided informational, material, and emotional support to individuals deciding to seek HIV testing. For policy makers and health professionals, coming to a more complete understanding of these dynamics will enable them to make institutional decisions and allocate resources to improve and enhance the support available from within these social networks, thus encouraging, promoting, and leading to increased testing for HIV.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31795
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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