HIV self-management should address comorbidities and consider how social and cultural factors influence self-management strategies, according to research published in AIDS Patient Care and STDs.
In order to examine factors that influence how patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS manage their condition, Lari Warren-Jeanpiere, PhD, of Georgetown University, and colleagues conducted five focus groups that included black women, who were HIV-positive and aged between 52 and 65 years.
Participants were questioned about self-management of HIV and comorbidities, social support needs, medication adherence and future plans. Women defined HIV self-management as adhering to a daily treatment regimen, eating well, exercising, and engaging in spiritual activities.
“Women described that the most effective way for them to self-manage their health was to take it one day at a time so as not to become overwhelmed with trying to manage HIV along with their other comorbid conditions and family commitments,” wrote the researchers.
Participants perceived comorbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes, to be more difficult to self-manage compared with HIV. Lack of income, health insurance, inflexible work schedules, and loneliness were attributed to difficulties self-managing comorbidities.
Conversely, social responsibilities such as caring for family members served as motivation to stay healthy in order to continue to care for family.
“We can no longer afford to view engagement in HIV care as a single-disease issue and hope to attain optimal health and well-being in our HIV-affected populations,” cautioned the investigators. “Our findings suggest that neither aging nor HIV are always at the forefront of women’s concerns when they discuss their illness self-management.