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Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Psychosocial Issues

In the initial years of the epidemic, the complex clinical treatment dynamics, negative public attitudes, and limited personal and community resources available to people with AIDS challenged the advocacy and discharge-planning skills of many professionals (Mantell, Shulman, Belmont, and Spivak 1989). Repeated exposure to death, homophobia, negative attitudes about addictive lifestyles, antisocial behaviors, and fear of AIDS contagion have added stress to professionals employed in the health arena and supporting services (Wade, Stein, and Beckerman 1995).

Partially because disadvantaged populations are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, there is often a stigma attached to the diagnosis (Diaz and Kelly 1991; Reamer 1993). People within the United States have been victims of hate crimes due to their HIV positive status. Within many countries in Africa, people have been stoned to death, or disowned when an HIV positive status was disclosed ("Fact Sheet 6 HIV/AIDS: Fear, Stigma, and Isolation" 2000). Fear and prejudice have been an integral part of this epidemic since its inception, often exacerbating already difficult situations for those dealing with the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS (Ryan and Rowe 1988). Responses to this difficult reality include depression, claiming illness is something other than HIV/AIDS, withdrawal from loved ones and work environments, and even suicide (Ellenberg 1998).


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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Health IssuesAcquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) - History, Modes Of Transmission, Testing And Diagnosis, Symptoms, Treatment, Psychosocial Issues, Global Implications