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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 188.
Published online 2012 March 13. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-188
PMCID: PMC3352053

A cross-sectional description of social capital in an international sample of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH)

Abstract

Background

Social capital refers to the resources linked to having a strong social network. This concept plays into health outcomes among People Living with HIV/AIDS because, globally, this is a highly marginalized population. Case studies show that modifying social capital can lead to improvements in HIV transmission and management; however, there remains a lack of description or definition of social capital in international settings. The purpose of our paper was to describe the degree of social capital in an international sample of adults living with HIV/AIDS.

Methods

We recruited PLWH at 16 sites from five countries including Canada, China, Namibia, Thailand, and the United States. Participants (n = 1,963) completed a cross-sectional survey and data were collected between August, 2009 and December, 2010. Data analyses included descriptive statistics, factor analysis, and correlational analysis.

Results

Participant's mean age was 45.2 years, most (69%) identified as male, African American/Black (39.9%), and unemployed (69.5%). Total mean social capital was 2.68 points, a higher than average total social capital score. Moderate correlations were observed between self-reported physical (r = 0.25) and psychological condition (r = 0.36), social support (r = 0.31), and total social capital. No relationships between mental health factors, including substance use, and social capital were detected.

Conclusions

This is the first report to describe levels of total social capital in an international sample of PLWH and to describe its relationship to self-reported health in this population.

Keywords: Social capital, HIV/AIDS, Global health, Social science

Articles from BMC Public Health are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central