HEALTHY LIVING
11/26/2013 05:11 pm ET

Younger People With HIV May Face More Stress, Isolation: Study

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Younger people with HIV may experience more isolation and stress than older people with the disease, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University found that people younger than age 50 with HIV feel more disconnected from their support group of family and friends, largely because of stigma they felt because of their disease, researchers found.

Meanwhile, people age 50 and older with HIV had a stronger support group they could rely on.

"The younger, newly diagnosed individual may not know anyone in their peer group with a chronic illness, much less HIV," study researcher Allison Webel, Ph.D., RN, an assistant professor at the university's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, said in a statement.

The researchers also found that people with HIV generally experienced higher levels of stress than those without. Specifically, HIV-positive people were 30 to 40 percent more stressed than people without the disease. Women were especially likely to experience stress from HIV.

The findings, published in the journal AIDS Care, are based on data from 102 people with HIV between ages 18 and 64 who were surveyed on their feelings of stress and isolation. They also had their heart rate variability measured. The average participant in the study was African-American, had been managing HIV for almost 14 years, was of low-income, and was age 48.

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