Exploring the experiences of peer support participation for HIV peer volunteers: A meta-synthesis of qualitative research


BACKGROUND: Gaining insights and feedback from HIV peer volunteers about their peer support practice is crucial for optimizing and enhancing the effectiveness and sustainability of peer support for people with HIV. There is a dearth of systematic reviews that explore the experiences of HIV peer volunteers about their peer support experience. This study aims to consolidate qualitative research on the experiences of peer support participation for HIV peer volunteers, to provide inspiration and reference for HIV peer support practice. METHODS: A meta-aggregation approach was employed to synthesize qualitative studies. Electronic databases were searched for peer-reviewed and gray literature published in English and Chinese between 1996 and September 2022. Two independent reviewers assessed the methodological quality and extracted data from the included studies. The meta-aggregation approach developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) was utilized to synthesize the findings. RESULTS: A total of 2610 studies were initially identified through the database search, and twenty-two eligible studies were included in the meta-synthesis. Among the included studies, five presented synthesized findings on the following topics: firstly, taking people with HIV as HIV peer volunteers shows specific motivations and advantages when engaging in peer support practice. Secondly, HIV peer volunteers reinforce the connections between people with HIV and medical institutions, ensuring continuity of care and compensating for the limited availability of medical resources. Thirdly, HIV peer volunteers are capable of providing people with HIV with a higher level of support. Additionally, participating in peer support practice can also yield personal benefits for HIV peer volunteers. Finally, HIV peer support programs face both opportunities and challenges. CONCLUSION: It is necessary to take more flexible and effective approaches to address resource allocation and social support for people with HIV. Peer support presents a mutually beneficial option that holds significant implications for public health systems, clinical healthcare providers, people with HIV, and HIV peer volunteers. It is imperative to develop effective models for HIV peer support practice. Collaborative efforts between relevant departments and personnel, alongside HIV peer volunteers, should be undertaken to formulate support strategies. Additionally, efforts should be made to identify and guide people with HIV into the healthcare system, facilitating comprehensive treatment and care continuity. These measures aim to further reduce HIV transmission, improve the quality of life for people with HIV, and advance the “normalization” of HIV.


Chang K, Wu Y, Shan S, Han S, Wang X, Wu D, Quan X, Han J, Zhang L




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Social support
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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