"Please Don't Make Me Ask for Help": Implicit Social Support and Mental Health in Chinese Individuals Living with HIV

AIDS Behav. 2015 Aug;19(8):1501-9. doi: 10.1007/s10461-015-1041-y.


China faces a growing HIV epidemic; psychosocial needs of HIV-positive individuals remain largely unaddressed. Research is needed to consider the gap between need for mental healthcare and lack of sufficiently trained professionals, in a culturally acceptable manner. This study assessed explicit and implicit forms of social support and mental health symptoms in 120 HIV-positive Chinese. Explicit social support refers to interactions involving active disclosure and discussion of problems and request for assistance, whereas implicit social support refers to the emotional comfort one obtains from social networks without disclosing problems. We hypothesized and found using multiple linear regression, that after controlling for demographics, only implicit, but not explicit social support positively predicted mental health. Future research is warranted on the effects of utilizing implicit social support to bolster mental health, which has the potential to circumvent the issues of both high stigma and low professional resources in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Services
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Networking
  • Social Stigma*
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping