What Hard Times and Stress Do for Your HIV Health

What Hard Times and Stress Do for Your HIV Health

Stress may seem like an unavoidable consequence of daily life -- with the top concerns being over money, work, family responsibilities and health concerns according to an annual survey conducted by the American Psychological Association. And people with HIV -- who may be facing a new diagnosis, challenges related to disclosure, or health concerns -- may experience even higher levels. In addition to affecting mental wellbeing and day-to-day enjoyment, how do stressful life events impact people with HIV?

Clinicians and researchers use the blanket term "trauma" to refer to deeply distressing life events, like physical abuse, sexual violence or the death of a loved one, that have great potential to inflict lasting emotional harm. But other more common life events -- that may be positive or negative, short- or long-term -- like getting married, having difficulty at work, being arrested, being robbed, or getting a promotion, can also be sources of stress and have impacts on health.

Evidence of Stress and Trauma's Impact on HIV

Jane Leserman, Ph.D., a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, investigated the consequences of stress and trauma in a group of 490 men and women with HIV for a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Over 27 months, the researchers interviewed participants receiving care at eight different infectious disease clinics every nine months with questionnaires that asked about traumatic events, sexual and physical abuse, childhood physical and emotional neglect, and recent stressful life events.

This excerpt was cross-posted with the permission of BETAblog.org. Read the full article.