Issues Treated in Therapy:
According to the Center for Disease Control, over 1,000,000 people are living with HIV in the United States, and only 1 in 5 are aware of it. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a serious health condition that causes the immune system to gradually fail, leaving individuals susceptible to tumors and opportunistic infections. A diagnosis can have a negative impact on many people's mental or emotional well-being; in these cases, the support of a mental health clinician may be helpful.
Infection with HIV is transferred through certain bodily fluids including:
Within any of these fluids, HIV is infects both immune cells and free virus particles. HIV is not transferred through saliva.
The four major ways in which HIV is transmitted include:
Psychotherapy for HIV and AIDS
Being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS can be life-altering and frightening. People with the disease may struggle with depression and anxiety, may grieve a perceived loss of the life they thought they would have, and may need help navigating the challenges of romantic relationships. They may also become angry with the person who gave them HIV or experience overwhelming stress due to the financial demands and lifestyle changes required in treatment. Psychotherapy can help people diagnosed with HIV/AIDs cope with grief, trauma, depression, and anxiety that may be related to their diagnosis or may be a prexisting condition not related at all to their medical diagnosis.
There are several different styles of psychotherapy that may be used to assist people in adjusting to the reality or challenges of a HIV or AIDS diagnosis. Family counseling can help people with the disorder navigate family and romantic relationships after HIV/AIDS. The shock of having HIV or AIDS as well as the perpetual reminder of being infected may cause adverse or negative mental health effects.
Some people with HIV or AIDS benefit from group therapy and/or support groups where they can connect and share with other people facing similar experiences. Support groups or group therapy allows people to network with other people who have experienced life with HIV/AIDS, normalizes the challenges associated with an HIV or AIDs diagnosis, and may provide reassurance that life does go on. Support groups often focus on developing healthy coping strategies and providing a community for people with HIV or AIDS.
Currently, there are no available vaccines or cures for HIV or AIDS. Antiretroviral treatments, also known as post-exposure prophylaxis, are believed to decrease the risk of AIDS infection if begun as quickly as possible. For the medical treatment of depression or other mental health issues related to HIV and AIDS, biomedical therapies such as medication may be effective. Antidepressants, antipsychotic and anti-anxiety drugs may be used in treating mental health problems associated with HIV and AIDS.
Peter, 38, had recently been diagnosed with HIV and was having trouble going about his daily routines. He worried constantly and began losing the ability to concentrate on important tasks. His friends tried to comfort him, but he lashed out angrily, feeling more and more isolated because of it. In therapy, Peter learned to approach his diagnosis with hope and vigilance, and developed coping mechanisms to ease the stress. Though he knew his life would forever be different, he found much to be thankful for, and strove to not let the diagnosis control his entire life.
Last updated: 05-22-2013
HIV / AIDS Articles