Telephone Support Groups May Help Older HIV/AIDS Patients, Study Says
Older HIV/AIDS patients may benefit from participating in telephone support groups, according to a study presented on Saturday at the annual National Association on HIV Over Fifty conference, the AP/Akron Beacon Journal reports. The study, called Project Empower and funded by a $435,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging, is evaluating group therapy and its effect on HIV-positive older adults who have depression. Ohio University health psychologist Timothy Heckman and colleagues assigned about 70 participants recruited by HIV/AIDS groups in Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania to several small groups. Each group met with a social worker for 12, one-hour conference calls (AP/Akron Beacon Journal, 9/8). Participants discussed coping with HIV/AIDS, stress management, aging and support, while "leaving room for people to address specific needs," social worker and group moderator Lori Brown said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. She added that participants' background, gender and sexual orientation varied in each group. Heckman said, "The older adults who went through the intervention said they felt they could cope better." She added that participants also reported that they felt "less stress" and some participants said that they "looked forward" to the phone sessions, the Dispatch reports. Heckman said that there is a gap in care for older patients because many support groups are aimed at younger patients. "I think as the newer [antiretroviral] medications have evolved, we're seeing people live longer periods of time. It's a population that's growing," Heckman added. According to the CDC, about 11% of the 816,149 AIDS cases reported in 2001 were among people older than age 50; however, comparable statistics for HIV are not available because HIV reporting is not yet required nationwide, the Dispatch reports (Wilson, Columbus Dispatch, 9/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.