HIV Infection and Stage of Illness: A Comparison of Family, Friend, and Professional Social-Support Providers Over a 2-Year Period


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael Vandehey, Psychology Program, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft Boulevard, Wichita Falls, TX 76308-2099.


Participants listed up to 9 social-support providers per research interval. Social-support providers were placed into 1 of 3 categories: (a) family, (b) friends, or (c) professional. Stage of illness was reported for each participant at each data-collection period. Comparisons were made between the type of social-support providers at the initial, 1-year, and 2-year time intervals. Past research conducted in large urban cities has reported differences between family and friend social-support providers; namely, family was described as non-involved or hostile. In addition, increased severity of illness was reported to decrease total number of friend social supports and to increase total number of family social supports. The current study, which was conducted with a midwestern rural and small urban population, did not find evidence to support noninvolved or hostile family or decreasing social-support systems as severity of illness increased. In fact, the current study found similar levels of family and friend social support that was maintained over the 2-year time period.