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Assessing the Relationship between Christian Congregations and Teenagers Infected with HIV as Infants: a Qualitative Study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies. (Peace and Development Work)
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Problem: With 20% being infected, South Africa still has the highest HIV prevalence worldwide, implying a large number of children being infected as infant over the past decades. Nowadays, many of these infants are in their teenage years. Little research has been conducted about those adolescents. Due to the disease’s connection to homosexuality and disloyalty as well as many congregations’ rejection of contraceptives, the relation between HIV-positive people and faith communities, as well as religion in general, is ambiguous. Congregations may view people perinatally infected with HIV differently since they were not infected due to potentially ‘immoral behavior,’ but by their mothers.

Objective: Scientific literature exists about HIV/AIDS and religion/spirituality for adults, and about mental issues of HIV-positive youth. The connection between those two fields has not been drawn. Therefore, this research focuses on the role of religious congregations in the lives of teenagers perinatally infected with HIV (TPIH). It analyzes to what extent those adolescents have a connection to a congregation, how supportive it is to them, and where support improvement opportunities lie. The main objective is to identify how congregations can provide relevant support for infected adolescents.

Methods: A qualitative study using 18 semi-structured interviews with TPIH, religious representatives and other key informants provides a basis for this abductive research. The conceptual framework builds on theories of social stigma as a sub-category of social constructions. Questionnaires concentrate on Szaflarski et al.’s (2010) dimensions of religion/spirituality.

Results: TPIH seem to view church and religion positively, but regularly experience or witness stigma by society in general. Although churches have great power to address societal perceptions of HIV/AIDS, they rarely support TPIH. Most existing help focuses on general stigma reduction. While this is necessary, congregations should specifically support TPIH by measures concentrating on individual, group and caregiver support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 60
Keywords [en]
HIV/AIDS, teenagers, Christian, church, South Africa
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-89198OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-89198DiVA, id: diva2:1352824
Subject / course
Peace and development
Educational program
Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-09-20 Created: 2019-09-19 Last updated: 2019-09-20Bibliographically approved

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