Not Made of Glass: A Qualitative Analysis of Resilience Processes Among Adolescent and Young Adults Living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta, Georgia Open Access

Valek, Sara L. (2016)

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Background: Rates of adolescent and young adults (AYA) living with HIV continue to rise in the American Southeast. AYA populations face unique challenges such as disclosure considerations, stigma and discrimination, and housing and financial instability related to the developmental phase of emerging adulthood.

Objectives: This research project seeks to highlight factors that promote positive health maintenance activities among youth living with HIV, to inform future programs targeted at HIV treatment in AYA populations.

Methods: AYA patients from the Grady Ponce de Leon Center in Atlanta, GA took part in in-depth interviews with questions related to the transition process from pediatric clinic to adult services and interviews. A total of 14 in-depth interviews were coded analyzed and a grounded theory approach was used to construct theories on participants' coping behavior. Results: The adversities facing participants at various stages in their lives were seemingly insurmountable challenges and major disruptions to stability, ranging from domestic violence to blatant discrimination and recurrent financial difficulties. Findings were organized in the following three thematic areas: (1) promotive factors used to cope with adversity, including support networks, autonomy, solidarity with others living with HIV/AIDS, and personal growth and acceptance (2) pervasive stigma and discrimination, including identity, stigma as an obstacle to success, and ability to trust others (3) socioeconomic disparities, including substance abuse, financial struggles, and housing instability.

Discussion: Our findings are consistent with the literature related to coping mechanisms in the AYA age group, as well as other groups coping with chronic illnesses. We found that AYAs enable an array of promotive factors to cope with challenges in their daily lives, some of which have been nurtured over extended periods of growth in the face of adversity. Health care professionals can assist this population by providing them with the services and tools needed to continue fostering positive coping skills and strengthen existing support networks.

Table of Contents

Review of the Literature (1)

Introduction (25)

Methods (27)

Results (32)

Discussion (48)

Annexes (54)

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