Does HIV affect Mental Health? – A Discussion

Does HIV affect Mental Health? – A Discussion
February 15 07:49 2019 Print This Article

When one is suffering from HIV/AIDS, then coping with the immunodeficiency condition is a challenge for both the body and the mind.  For those who might not understand the true nature of HIV, it is a virus that attacks the human body’s immune system by destruction of CD4+ white blood cells. What this does is that it leaves the infected person’s body considerably prone to dangerous infections and diseases. An HIV infected person, therefore, is always living on the edge, so to speak.

So, does this disorder affect the mental health of the patient? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s discuss the subject in a more exhaustive manner.

Higher Risk

According to various studies and researches, it has been found that patients infected with HIV are twice as likely to develop mental health disorders as non-patients. Thus, if you are living with HIV/AIDS, then the risk of you falling into anxiety, depression and cognitive disorders increases. This is mostly due to the gravity of HIV at large, along with various other stress factors which we will discuss later.

The most important thing to remember here is that while the probability of having adverse effects on mental health due to HIV is high, such a situation can be controlled, managed and cured with the right treatment, approach and therapy. Ultimately, the patient’s will power and mental fortitude plays a big role in regaining mental as well as physical health despite being HIV positive.

The Correlation

Studies have also suggested that there is a correlation between people suffering from mental health disorders and their risk of contracting HIV. Yes, mental issues such as depression do not directly cause someone to become HIV positive. But adverse mental health can certainly trigger events and create situations which ultimately cause the person to become infected.

A World Health Organization report on mental health and HIV/AIDS found out that mental disorders, including substance abuse disorders, are risk factors for contracting HIV/AIDS. For example, depression often induces behavioural changes in patients which might push them towards unprotected sex, multiple sex partners and STDs – all leading direct causes of HIV/AIDS. In similar vein, those suffering from psychiatric disorders are extremely likely to indulge in unsafe sex and substance abuse, thus making them extremely vulnerable to HIV.

If you identify yourself with any particular mental disorder and might have engaged in high risk activities as mentioned above, then it is highly recommended that you get yourself tested for HIV as soon as possible. HIV patients can also check online medical portals out for HIV safety kits and other useful devices. If you are a medical professional reading this, then you can get the best HIV test kit price at online portals such as Smart Medical Buyer which offer the highest quality, industry-recommended medical supplies.

Stress Factors

HIV patients suffer from a lot of stress which might put them at risk for other mental health disorders, if not treated properly. Such stress is often due to:

  • Inability to cope with the knowledge of having HIV/AIDS
  • Fear of social rejection, discrimination and stigma
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Trauma of changing physical appearance and structure due to HIV
  • Fear of financial burden incurred due to medical expenses and the treatment costs

One must also note that the HIV virus resides in the human brain, thus directly affecting the mental health of the patient, often by causing neurological disorders to emerge. These are often termed as HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) which falls into three major categories. These include Asymptomatic Neurocognitive Impairment (HIV-related cognitive impairment without affect every day functioning), Mild Neurocognitive Disorder for mild interference in everyday functioning, and HIV Associated Dementia which hampers learning new stuff, processing information, attention, concentration, etc.

Coping with HIV Mentally

The best way to deal with HIV mentally is to focus on the treatment as soon as possible and living your life the best you can. The prescribed treatment for HIV infection is antiretroviral therapy which can help completely suppress the virus with time, thus alleviating both your physical as well as mental health. Treatment and experiencing results can give you the positive reinforcement required to deal with conditions like anxiety and help push the symptoms of HIV-related depression away.

Having a constant line of support in the form of friends, family members and doctors is highly recommended so that one does not feel isolated, alone or helpless in his or her recovery. Often, talk about one’s mental issues and general behaviour is the best way to enable experienced professionals to help you cope with HIV in the best possible way.

Finally, try to learn about new breakthroughs in HIV treatment, how to take care of your mental and physical health, choosing the safest medical equipment used during treatment such as industry-leading sterile gauze pads or top of the line safety kits, etc. Reading up and learning more about the condition and its treatment can be extremely helpful as well and will make you feel better equipped to fight back.

SUMMARY In this article, we talk about the condition of HIV/AIDS and how it can be a huge mental challenge to cope up with the chronic illness. We further discuss in detail the correlation between HIV/AIDS and mental health, the ordeals patients might suffer from, and the coping techniques for the same.

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