Coping With HIV: Caribbean People in the United Kingdom
Although Caribbean people in the United Kingdom are increasingly being affected by HIV/AIDS, there has been no examination of how they are coping with the illness. We investigate the coping strategies of HIV-positive Caribbean people using in-depth interviews with a purposively selected group of 25 residents of South London. The main coping strategies were more cognitive than behavioral: restricted disclosure, submersion, faith, and positive reappraisal. These strategies were intertwined in complex ways, and most were rooted in contextual factors, particularly cultural ones. Themes of loss, silence, and reinvention suffused respondents' narratives. Interventions should consider the high degree of stigmatization of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean community, reluctance to disclose, the likelihood of an initial severe reaction to diagnosis, and external stressors. HIV-positive Caribbean people who are coping well could serve as mentors and role models for poor copers and newly diagnosed patients; establishing Caribbean-specific support groups might also assist coping.
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