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Understanding Health Literacy for People Living With HIV: Locations of Learning.


Health literacy, including people's abilities to access, process, and comprehend health-related information, has become an important component in the management of complex and chronic diseases such as HIV infection. Clinical measures of health literacy that focus on patients' abilities to follow plans of care ignore the multidimensionality of health literacy. Our thematic analysis of 28 focus groups from a qualitative, multisite, multinational study exploring information practices of people living with HIV (PLWH) demonstrated the importance of location as a dimension of health literacy. Clinical care and conceptual/virtual locations (media/Internet and research studies) were used by PLWH to learn about HIV and how to live successfully with HIV. Nonclinical spaces where PLWH could safely discuss issues such as disclosure and life problems were noted. Expanding clinical perspectives of health literacy to include location, assessing the what and where of learning, and trusted purveyors of knowledge could help providers improve patient engagement in care.

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