Quality of Life Better After HIV Diagnosis for Some
May 9, 2003
Many people who are HIV-infected report that "life is better" after they receive their diagnosis, according to the finding of AIDS researchers. "We don't know for sure why this is," said lead investigator Dr. Joel Tsevat of the Veterans Healthcare System in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tsevat and colleagues presented their survey findings at the annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine in Vancouver.Adapted from:
Tsevat and co-investigators found a number of correlations between improved quality of life after receiving a diagnosis of HIV infection, including fewer financial worries, fewer disclosure worries, increased optimism related to treatment outcome and various spirituality factors.
In the study, Tsevat and colleagues interviewed 449 patients at various stages of HIV infection and AIDS between February 2002 and February 2003. After being asked to compare their quality of life before and after receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis, about a third (32 percent) of participants reported that their life was better after diagnosis, while 29 percent said their life was worse and 26 percent said their life was "about the same." After HIV diagnosis, patients were more likely to participate in non-organized religious activities such as prayer, meditation, and Bible study, said Tsevat. With the increase in spirituality, participants expressed sentiments such as they "were here for a reason, or that they had a purpose in life," explained Tsevat.
"An improvement in clinical status after diagnosis and the initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), is certainly important," noted Tsevat, "but we don't know if their specific symptoms correlated with their feelings. They may have been given a better hope for survival ... and there is also a decrease in the number of opportunistic infections," he added.
Going forward, Tsevat acknowledged that the next step is to design interventions for the two-thirds who did not report an improved quality of life. "They may need better treatment, better coping skills, clergy interventions. It certainly won't be a one-size-fits-all approach," Tsevat said. "We plan to re-interview these patients over the next 12 to 18 months to find out if their opinions have changed about their quality of life, and if so, why they changed."
05.02.03; Martha Kerr
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.