Research shows a link between the course of HIV disease and stress. Starting HIV medicines early to protect and restore your immune system is important. Also, working with your healthcare provider or other specialist to manage stress is a key part of staying healthier with HIV.
Research shows a link between the course of HIV disease and stress. Support programs can help people with HIV manage stress and learn coping skills.
Stress and depression have been linked to not taking HIV medicines as prescribed. Not sticking to an HIV regimen can harm a person’s health.
Stress and depression, especially when they are both present, may lead to a loss of certain T cells in people with HIV. Because of the important role these T cells play in helping to fight the virus, the loss of these T cells from stress and depression may have a harmful effect on people who have HIV.
It is not just the stress of being diagnosed with HIV or of having HIV that can cause a drop in T cell count. Stressful life events can also weaken the immune system. These may include:
- The death of family members or close friends
- Life-threatening or worsening health problems of family members or friends, especially when caretaking is involved
- Relationship breakups
Positive things can help people with HIV cope and remain engaged in their lives. They may also help prevent HIV from getting worse. Some of these positive things are:
- Positive beliefs (finding meaning in things, increasing spirituality)
- Positive behaviors (processing and expressing emotions, actively coping with life’s problems, sticking to your treatment regimen)
- Actively interacting with others (openness, extraversion)
- Staying connected with people
Support programs can help people with HIV manage stress and learn coping skills. Talk with your healthcare provider about the stresses in your life. Your provider can help you find a stress management program that’s right for you.