Psychological well-being of people with HIV. Summary
In an attempt to sum up the results of our research presented here we would like to note several recurring themes, which are consistent with other psychological studies on this subject.
Personality traits and medical variables
Firstly, it seems interesting that the results indicate the leading role of personality traits and sociodemographic variables rather than medical variables as factors important for psychological well-being of people with HIV. In other words, it is not the disease itself but social status and stable psychological characteristics that are of key importance for the well-being of persons diagnosed and currently undergoing available medical treatment.
Gender differences and mechanisms behind them
Additionally, one of the most interesting and at the same time still poorly identified areas is the question of gender differences in well-being, and more specifically – mechanisms behind them. Therefore, further research should answer the question why in the group of people with HIV it is women who systematically declare lower levels of psychological well-being than men and how this can be changed.
Changes of well-being over time
As regards changes of well-being over time, probably the social conditions in which people with HIV live are of key importance. Possible support and assistance of social workers should therefore be oriented towards improving this aspect of life. Additionally, it has been shown that constant presence of negative emotions might be related to lower levels of CD4 lymphocytes, which is particularly visible in women.
Role of support given by the patients to their loved ones
An adaptative role of support given to others was recorded for the first time in the group of persons infected with HIV. At the same time, it was pointed out that this adaptative role only occurred in individuals who remained in close relationships.
Practical dimension of scientific studies
In conclusion, it is worth focusing on a possible practical dimension of the outcomes obtained in the context of the situation of persons with HIV in Poland.
In psychological literature there are more and more studies regarding the design of interventions aimed directly at improving the well-being and quality of life of people with HIV. It is important since – as some authors point out – in Poland the question of mental health still is not an integral part of the strategy of preventing HIV infections and care available to this group of patients. Moreover, the impact of HIV infection on patients’ mental health is not only underestimated but sometimes outright ignored.
We face this situation although already in 2008 the World Health Organization (WHO) postulated including mental health in national AIDS programmes and called for holding courses for doctors and consultants helping people with HIV in order to train them in identifying and treating the most frequent mental disorders.
Dissemination of knowledge about the importance of psychological and social factors in the course of HIV infection, achieved through continued research in this area and increased collaboration with doctors, is likely to contribute to halting of the unfavourable trend.
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