African Journal of AIDS Research

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Social engagement and survival in people aged 50 years and over living with HIV and without HIV in Uganda: A prospective cohort study

Joseph O. Mugisha, Enid J. Schatz, Christian Hansen, Emily Leary, Joel Negin, Paul Kowal, Janet Seeley


This study examined the association between social engagement and survival in people with or without HIV aged 50 years and over in Uganda. We analysed two waves of a survey from two sites in Uganda to assess  predictors of mortality between waves. The first wave was conducted between 2009 and 2010 while the second wave was conducted between 2012 and 2013. A standardised questionnaire adapted from the World Health Organization study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) was administered through face-to-face interviews at both survey waves. Cox proportional hazards models and Nelson–Aalen cumulative hazards functions were used to investigate associations between the strength of participants’ social ties, using distance and intimacy metrics, and their  social engagement with mortality between waves. Of the original 510 participants, 63 (12.3%) died between waves. Being more socially engaged and able to provide in-kind or financial contributions to family or friends were protective. After adjusting for covariates neither social tie measure was predictive of mortality. There were no significant differences in social engagement and survival by HIV status. Further research is needed in African settings on the relationship between social relationships and subsequent mortality in older adults to assess if improved social relationships could moderate mortality.

Keywords: ageing, antiretroviral drugs, health, mortality, older people

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