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Mental Health and HIV

Mental Health and HIV

One would hope in this era, every sensible mature person knows what HIV/AIDS is. What are the Causes, effects and symptoms of this Disease and what is the prevention?   I wish not to discuss all these aspects in detail. Being a psychologist, I am going to discusses mental condition that may occur with a diagnosis of HIV positive.  I wish to discuss my personal experience as a counsellor for people with HIV/AIDS in the developing world.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) after transmitting into human body attacks on immune system and increase the risk of getting infection and disease. Untreated, HIV can to an even more serious condition called AIDS.

The first time, this chronic Disease was diagnosed around 1920 or 1930 in West Africa. According to initial research this virus was transmitted from chimpanzee to human body. Basically, this disease can be caused through bloods intermingling with an affected carrier.

Since people have become aware of this deadly disease, they have been scared and created so many myths about it.  Back in the day, even in the developed world, the person with HIV suffered with stigma/discrimination and isolation from the rest of the society. With the passage of the time as people became more aware of HIV, they have changed their minds and behaviour with HIV positive people. But these people still face stigma and discrimination.

In under-developed countries, societal attitudes to is HIV has not radically changed.  Someone who is already suffering with dangerous disease still has to face negative attitude from family, relatives and society. In fact, people with HIV /AIDS often have to face mental problems as well as physical and medical problems.

During my work experience I noticed that sometimes, it was so difficult to prepare someone for HIV testing. Because, they won’t listen that they are HIV positive. They knew after becoming HIV positive they would have to face so many challenges. They believed that they had become unacceptable for family and society.  They believed that their dependents would have to face lots of hurdles in life only because of them. It is very difficult to face stigma and discrimination for HIV/AIDS patients. These patients suffered in different mental problems. The most common mental health conditions that people living with HIV face is depression, stress and anxiety.  Other mental conditions are including sleep disorder, mood disorder and personality disorder. These mental conditions can range from mild to severe.

Their major depression related to, negative attitude from society, losing their job, relationship break ups, losing a loved one. All these fears affected their mental health, daily life routine and they got weaker day by day, mentally and physically. They lost their will power and confidence.

There is a tendency about patients to feel that they have committed some kind of big crime, which causes them to feel guilty and in some cases, commit suicide. This is of course, the wrong attitude to have, by facing up the disease and the remaining positive, it is amazing what can be achieved with that medication. Mental strength for people in the developing world is easier said than done when facing into such unreasonable societal judgement.  Yet I have seen such patients.  Their experience was so radically different from the others who suffered depression.  With medication AIDS can be treated as lifelong disorder rather than a death sentence.  Life can and does in continue. It becomes a matter then of what kind of a life you can have and with a positive attitude it is possible to have a very good one.

Almost every person faces mental health challenges at some point and has some stress related to societal pressure or behaviour/ losing job/ divorce, breakup or any other failure. Reasons can be different. But the most important thing is that how someone handle the problems and maintain all important aspect of life with these problems.

According to             Wade Boggs
“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results”’

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