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Having a Job Helps Women With HIV Manage Their Illness, Study Says

June 28, 2013

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and the University of California at San Francisco reported that having a job helped HIV-infected women maintain a health routine that included taking medications on schedule, keeping medical appointments, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Those who succeeded with self-management tasks such as these had a better chance of living a normal life span.

Allison Webel, lead author and assistant professor of nursing at CWRU's Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing, stated that positive employment aspects included the routine of a work schedule, additional income and benefits, and emotional support. Webel also noted that employment gave the HIV-infected women a sense of contributing to the world outside their homes.

Study authors surveyed 260 HIV-infected women about social resources to identify factors that helped participants with self-management. Average age of respondents was 46; a large proportion comprised mothers and African Americans. Many of the HIV-infected women had limited financial resources or were homeless and juggled many different responsibilities, which made maintaining a healthy routine more difficult. Although it was not clear why, African-American women were more successful in self-managing health than other ethnic groups.

In the past, many HIV-infected women quit work to focus on their health. However, newer antiretroviral therapies have become more effective in preventing HIV from progressing to AIDS and in delaying HIV-related illnesses, which has enabled HIV-infected women to stay in the workforce. The study authors recommended establishing training programs to help HIV-infected women find and hold jobs. Additional research into microenterprises might also suggest ways to help HIV-infected women generate income for necessities such as food and housing.

The full report, "The Impact of Social Context on Self-Management in Women Living With HIV," was published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine (2013; doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.03.037).

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06.26.2013




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