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Psychological distress and coping of women with HIV/AIDS living in the west cost of Puerto Rico

Douglas Santos, PhD, Eddie Marrero, PhD, and Janet Bonilla, PhD. Social Sciences Department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, P.O. Box 9266, Mayaguez, PR 00681, 787 832 -4040 ext 3839, dsantos@ceci.uprm.edu

Background: Studies examining the mental health consequences associated with the HIV/AIDS infection began in the early1980s. Consistently, cross sectional analyses have found elevated rates of depression syndromes, impaired psychological functioning, and high psychological distress among people with HIV/AIDS. The objectives were to describe the level of psychological distress and coping strategies of a sample of women with HIV/AIDS. Methods: The sample consisted of 110 women with HIV/AIDS that were randomly selected from a public health care center located on the west coast of Puerto Rico. A sampling frame was constructed using the following criteria: active medical record, ages between 18 and 50, and under HIV/AIDS treatment for at least two months. Participants answered a computerized structure interview questionnaire after signing a consent form. The measures included the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), The Center for Epidemiologic Studies for Depression (CESD), and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire-Revised. Results: Extremely high levels of both anxiety and depressive symptoms were identified in the sample. Specifically, over 60% and 70% of the women interviewed scored above the cut off point in the BAI and in the CESD respectively. Close to 40% of sample scored above the cut off point in both measures. The majority (53.2%) of the women interviewed showed negative coping strategies. Conclusion: In general, high levels of psychological distress and inadequate ways of coping with the HIV/AIDS illness were identified in a vast percent of the sample. Need for mental health services and specific interventions for positive coping strategies are presented.

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to

Keywords: Mental Health, Correctional Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

HIV/AIDS Research Roundtable: Latino and Hispanic Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA