Post diagnosis, some HIV patients experience sunnier outlook

Washington, Nov 26 ( Some HIV patients experience an improved quality of life post diagnosis, according to a new study.

Joel Tsevat, principal study investigator from the University of Cincinnati (U-C) Academic Health Centre and a research team conducted two sets of interviews and completed chart reviews of 347 HIV outpatients from three US cities in 2002-2004.

“Approximately 1.1 million Americans are infected with HIV,” says Tsevat, physician and researcher in internal medicine.

“Substantial increases in life expectancy for people with HIV have sharpened the focus on their quality of life… Little information is available comparing quality of life with HIV versus quality of life before being diagnosed,” adds Tsevat.

Researchers looked at demographic and clinical characteristics of patients, HIV-specific health status, symptoms, health concerns, spirituality/religion, social support, self-perception and levels of optimism.

“In two interviews, conducted a year to 18 months apart, patients compared their current life with life before being diagnosed with HIV,” he says.

“We found that many patients said their life is better than it was before their diagnosis, although results of such comparisons often change over time.”

Results after the first interview showed that 109 patients (31 percent) said their lives were better after diagnosis, 98 (28 percent) said they were worse, and the remainder — 140 patients — said their lives were about the same or that they were undecided.

After the second interview, approximately one-fifth of patients changed their answers to indicate life improvement after diagnosis; and one-sixth changed answers to reflect a feeling of life deterioration, a U-C release said.

“The two main factors associated with the feeling that life has improved, relative to pre-diagnosis, were optimism and spirituality,” says Tsevat.

These findings were published in the November issue of AIDS Patient Care and STDs.