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Why people living with HIV/AIDS exclude individuals from their chosen families

Grant JS, Vance DE, White W, Keltner NL, Raper JL

Health professionals can gain a better understanding of key elements of social support by examining reasons why people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (PLWH) exclude individuals from their chosen families (ie, families of choice). Our study identified reasons why PLWH excluded specific individuals from their chosen families. This mixed-method design was drawn from a larger study of 150 PLWH, in which 94 self-reported why they excluded individuals from their chosen families. Physical and emotional distance (n = 64; 68.1%); nonsupport, nonacceptance, and harm (n = 25; 26.6%); conditional caring and trust (n = 22; 23.4%); and no blood/familial relationship (n = 13; 13.8%) were the reasons PLWH excluded individuals from their chosen families. Demographic and personal characteristics were unrelated to these themes, supporting the conclusion that reasons for excluding family members are universal and not dependent on particular participant characteristics. For chosen family relationships to develop and exist, these findings emphasize the value of physical and emotional contact between individuals.
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