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


2012-03-13, 2012-03-13


Webel, Allison
Phillips, J. Craig
Dawson Rose, Carol
Holzemer, William
Chen, Wei-Ti
Tyer-Viola, Lynda
Rivero-Mendez, Marta
Nicholas, Patrice
Nokes, Kathleen
Kemppainen, Jeanne

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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.



social capital, HIV/AIDS, Global health, Social science


This project was supported in part by: NIH UL1 RR024131; NIH T32NR007081; NIH KL2RR024990; NIH R15NR011130; International Pilot Award, University of Washington Center for AIDS Research; University of British Columbia School of Nursing Helen Shore Fund; Duke University School of Nursing Office of Research Affairs; MGH Institute for Health Professions; Rutgers College of Nursing; City University of New York. The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or any other funders. Theses funding agencies had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication


Attribution 2.0 International


Webel, A., Phillips, J.C., Rose, C.D., Holzemer, W.L., Chen, W.T., Tyer-Viola, L., Rivero-Méndez, M., Nicholas, P., Nokes, K., Kemppainen, J. and Sefcik, E., 2012. A cross-sectional description of social capital in an international sample of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH). BMC public health, 12(1), pp.1-11.