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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a serious, incurable health condition. Untreated HIV causes the immune system to gradually fail and ultimately leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which can leave individuals susceptible to tumors, cancers, and opportunistic infections. Knowing your HIV status and starting treatment if needed is critical to living a long and productive life.

As HIV symptoms can be challenging to deal with, and in the case of AIDS, may lead to death, many with HIV/AIDS find mental health support or therapy helpful in coping with their condition.

How HIV and AIDS Can Impact Mental Health

A diagnosis of HIV or AIDS may often be difficult to cope with. Although treatment has been shown to be very effective for HIV, and those receiving treatment for the condition can expect to live longer and experience a higher quality of life than they might have in years past, the virus may still have a significant effect on mental health. People diagnosed with HIV or AIDS may experience:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Grief for the perceived loss of the life they thought they would have
  • Anger toward the person who transmitted the virus
  • Stress due to the financial demands of treatment and any lifestyle changes that may be required
  • Guilt if they transmitted or suspect they transmitted the virus to someone else
  • Worry or decreased self-esteem from societal stigma and prejudices about HIV/AIDS
  • Hopelessness or suicidal thoughts

It may also be difficult for those infected with the virus to navigate the additional challenges a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS can have on romantic relationships. Couples or marriage coaching  can help those in relationships come to terms with an HIV diagnosis whether one or both partners are positive.

People taking ART or other HIV medications may also experience mental health issues such as anxiety or depression as side effects of the treatment.

As a counselor specializing in HIV/AIDS, I assist my clients in developing stronger coping skills and a more positive outlook on life and living with HIV and AIDS. I am here to help you navigate through your concerns around HIV/AIDS. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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