Factors contributing to the coping mechanisms of sere-discordant relationships
Tshoma, Refilwe Lucretia
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Sera-discordant relationships are becoming popular as the scourge of HIV progresses in the country. This new trend emerges at the time HIV is still attached to stigma and discrimination despite the fact that HIV has been around for over 30 years; and nowadays many individuals are voluntarily disclosing their HIV positive status. As challenging as all relationships are, the researcher assumed that because of the presence of HIV in their lives,sero-discordant relationships must be hard hit with multiple challenges. This study aimed at exploring coping mechanisms in sera-discordant relationships. Ecosystems theory, task centred model as well as strength based approach were used to guide the study to understand the people in their environment.The theories supported the notion that systems are interrelated and interdependent on one another. Strength based approach was useful to tap on the couples' strengths that assisted them to cope thus far by giving them tasks that assisted them to find the strength that lies within them to thrive and do well in their relationship. The study adopted a qualitative research method; the purpose behind using this approach was to understand sera-discordancy and its challenges as well as the coping mechanisms that couples have been utilising thus far in their relationship. To achieve this, literature from different sources was reviewed and through semi-structured interviews conducted mainly at the couple's homes. An interview guide was used with key informants. The results indicated that couples who found out their HIV sera-discordant status while in a relationship tend to struggle on adjusting to this new lifestyle. This type of relationship is fraught with many challenges one of which is stress resulting from feelings of betrayal where issues of infidelity would crop in.Then fear of transmission where the negative partner does not want to be infected and the positive partner is careful not to infect the negative partner. Stigma and discrimination also adds as a hindrance. It makes it difficult for couples to disclose and openly live with their different HIV status because of the assumption that when a positive partner status is known it is automatically assumed that the negative partner is also HIV positive. In spite of all the challenges faced by seradiscordant couples most of them learned to cope and thrive in their relationship. Aspects such as condom use, counselling as well as ARV's were mentioned as some resources that assisted them to cope and make their relationship a success. The negative partners also mentioned love and children as the main reasons they chose to stay in this relationship while knowing the possibilities of them getting infected are high.
- Humanities