Subjective Well-Being Among HIV-Positive South Africans: The Influence of Resilience and Social Capital

Research paper by Anette Arnesen Grønlie, Wenche Dageid

Indexed on: 07 Mar '16Published on: 07 Mar '16Published in: Social indicators research


Living with HIV in a context of adversity may impact on a person’s sense of well-being. Little is however known about factors associated with subjective well-being (SWB) among persons living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) in sub-Saharan Africa. This study examined the relationship between SWB, resilience and social capital. Participants were 263 HIV-positive, black South Africans living in poverty. Data were collected using three questionnaires measuring resilience, social capital and SWB, and analyzed using correlations and multiple regressions. The results showed that for all participants, SWB was associated with household income, the resilience factor being able to plan for the future, the social capital factors trust, reciprocity, solidarity, collective action, and perceived support and close ties to family and people of different religious groups. However, household income, resilience as a whole and the social capital factors reciprocity, solidarity and perceived support did not account for the any significant variation in SWB. For women, SWB was related to low collective action, having contacts of different religions and being able to plan for the future. For men, SWB was related to low trust in neighbors and being able to plan for the future. In conclusion, this indicates that what matters in terms of SWB among these PLWHAs is who and how they trust and relate to at a community level. It is proposed that through factors of social capital, HIV-positive persons living in contexts of adversity can secure access to resources and social support that are important for their sense of well-being.