Long-Term Survival With HIV/AIDS Linked to Spirituality, Positive Attitude, Support System, Studies Show
People who are "long-term AIDS survivors" are more likely to be "caring altruists" with strong spiritual faith, compared to those whose disease progresses more rapidly, according to new research, USA Today reports. Studies presented recently at an American Psychosomatic Society meeting examined the link between "personal qualities" and AIDS prognosis in 182 HIV-positive patients, most of whom were taking protease inhibitors. The studies found that people who lived for up to seven years after a "serious AIDS-related illness" were more likely to "express compassion for others" and have "spiritual convictions." Such participants were found to have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that impairs the immune system. In addition, HIV-positive people with no AIDS-related illnesses at the beginning of the studies had lower viral levels and healthier blood counts one year later if they "found some meaning in their HIV diagnosis," such as a "signal that they are supposed to change their lives for the better." Participants who experienced "self-acceptance and acceptance by family, friends and co-workers" also had lower viral levels and healthier blood counts over the course of a year, the study states. "Even with lifesaving drugs, this shows that psychological factors are still important in predicting who's going to become a long survivor," researcher Gail Ironson of the University of Miami said (Elias, USA Today, 3/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.