HIV infection is associated with substantial psychological and social morbidity, although there is a dearth of studies of women with the infection. In recent years, developed countries have reported an increase in the prevalence of HIV infection in women, a fact that makes it all the more important to address the study of their psychological and social status. The study is a controlled investigation of HIV seropositive (n = 49) and seronegative women (n = 43), including study of psychological status and history, social functioning and perceived supports, coping style, life events, and sexual difficulties. The results show that about a third of women were psychiatric cases, regardless of HIV status, although more than half of symptomatic women were psychiatric cases. Seropositive women were less likely to use instrumental social supports and more likely to use mental disengagement as ways of coping. Regarding perceived social supports, positive women had lower scores on social integration and guidance. Positive women were more likely to experience sexual difficulties and not to be in a relationship. Negative women reported more adverse life events in the last 6 months. Psychiatric morbidity was associated with poorer social adjustment and more adverse life events, but not with serostatus. HIV positive women and those at risk of HIV infection have substantial levels of psychological and social morbidity that require recognition by those involved in their care and provision of adequate mental health intervention.
- psychological status
- sexual problems