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Psychosocial Aspects of HIV/AIDS: Adults

This essay is based on article made by Ana-Maria Schweitzer, MA, Michael B. Mizwa and Michael W. Ross, MA, PhD, MPH. This article is about Psychosocial aspects of HIV and AIDS in adults´ life.
HIV as an illness affects the person first and foremost at the biological level in the form of an aggressive virus that compromises immunity. Every illnessexperience represents a unique and dramatic negative experience for the patient.
Psychologists conceptualize the disease developing based not only on an individual relationship with the nature and the aggressiveness of the viral subtype but also on the psychological response of the person, their experience with other pathologies, and their personality traits.
HIV-infected adults live in a social andcultural environ­ment, and the economic and political conditions of the state that they live in directly affect these people. In this complex context there are specific developmental stages that all adults, regardless of their HIV status, tend to go through.
* Stages 1 and 2: Shock, denial, anger
* Stage 3: Withdrawal
* Stage 4: Bargaining
* 4a: “Coming out” to significant others* 4b: Looking for other HIV positives
* 4c: Special status
* 4d: Altruistic behavior
* Stage 5: Acceptance
For a certain period the illness can take away the person’s ability to work and keep a job, thereby affecting the sense of productivity, self-control, and security of daily life. Redefining identity through the condition of HIV can be a big challenge because it can come indeep contradiction with life goals and plans. Sexuality is important during adulthood; however, having a sexually transmitted disease that is not curable will affect dynamics and form of sexual life.
When assisting and working with an HIV infected patient, health care providers must consider the pre­ceding aspects. The HIV infection may, depending on context. But becoming HIV infected and copingwith the disease is not totally the individual’s responsibility, because everyone’s life is unfolding in a society and a social context that generates circumstances for risk environments, thus making the individual more or less susceptible to acquiring HIV and remaining at risk for higher morbidity and mortality. Stigma and discrimination are channels that funnel the epidemic, raising obstacles toprevention and treatment. Probably the single most important factor in producing and extending the negative psychosocial effect of HIV and AIDS is stigma and discrimination. Consequently, actions to reduce or protect against stigma and discrimination may be the most significant step that can be taken to improve the psychosocial well-being of people with HIV/AIDS.
Statistics indicate that closeto 75% of the global HIV/ AIDS caseload occurs in Africa. As in other places, stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in Africa involves attributions of other stigmatized behavior, such as homosexual acts among young men. Homosexuality is highly stigmatized and is even illegal in many parts of Africa and Asia. People often blame outside forces, such as foreigners or the devil, for HIV/AIDS. Stigma may evenlead to violence against those blamed for introducing the disease. Most societies stigmatize sex workers (prostitutes), who are an integral part of the spread of HIV. Stigma and discrimination prevent sex workers from playing a larger role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Anal sex is also widely stigmatized, independent of its association with HIV infection. Anal sex is a more common practice inAfrica because is a common form of birth control. Stigma may cause people not to talk about risk behaviors and risk reduction. Sex education may also be stigmatized, perhaps in the belief that it can contribute to sexual activity. As a result, young people may lack information to prevent the spread of HIV. In areas of high HIV prevalence, infection during early sexual encounters is likely....
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