The Clinic Environment as a Form of Social Support for Adolescents and Young Adults Living with HIV

Suzanne M. Grieb, Deanna Kerrigan, Vicki Tepper, Jonathan Ellen, Erica Sibinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Adolescents and young adults living with HIV (YLHIV) face numerous stresses that affect their care and medication adherence. The clinic social environment may play an important supportive role for YLHIV, influencing health outcomes. The aim of this article is to explore how YLHIV in Baltimore, Maryland understand the various forms of social support provided within the social environment of their HIV clinic. We used qualitative research methods including iterative, semi-structured in-depth interviews with 20 YLHIV interviewed up to three times each to explore HIV stressors, support systems, and medication adherence. We employed thematic content analysis to systematically code and synthesize textual interview data. We found that YLHIV experienced social embeddedness with their healthcare teams and through clinic activities. Participants largely perceived these social connections as support, acknowledging that these supports are available to them when needed. Support was enacted through the provision of instrumental support for issues outside of the young person's medical care (i.e., finding a crib for a participant's baby), appraisal (i.e., through respect of the young person's agency and decision making), and information about their HIV care and medication. Support was not always well received, however, as some young people found the support from clinicians demeaning. Limitations of the clinic social support environment included concerns about trust and privacy, and perceiving support as inappropriate or unwanted. Participants identified a number of ways in which the clinic provided meaningful social support. Future research should explore how these supports may improve care and medication adherence of YLHIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-213
Number of pages6
JournalAIDS patient care and STDs
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • HIV
  • medication adherence
  • support
  • young adults
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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