An online self-help intervention is effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depressive symptoms in people with HIV, according to a randomized clinical trial conducted in the Netherlands and published in the September issue of The Lancet HIV.
The trial compared the outcomes in a group who received the online self-help intervention and a control group. The internet-based intervention, available in Dutch and English, consisted of a cognitive behavioral therapy program called “Living Positive with HIV” and developed from a self-help booklet that had previously proved effective in decreasing depressive symptoms. Participants also received minimal telephone coaching by a Masters student in psychology. The control group received the telephone coaching and could access the online intervention after the trial was completed.
Sanne van Leunen and colleagues randomly assigned 188 eligible participants to the intervention (97) or the control group (91) in 2015. Depression was assessed at baseline, Month 2, Month 5 and Month 8 (the control group did not take the last assessment).
As detailed below, results show that more participants in the intervention group than in the control group demonstrated significant change in their symptoms and that this effect was maintained for six months. Anxiety symptoms were also decreased. No adverse events were reported, the rate of satisfaction with the intervention was high, and most participants reported that they would recommend “Living Positive with HIV” to others.
From Psychology Today…
It’s well known to the point of stereotype that gay men experience higher rates of HIV, substance abuse, and suicide. But it’s less known, and hardly talked about, that we also have much higher rates of depression, especially those of us living with HIV, despite the causal relationship of depression and self-medicating and self-harming behavior.
You might call depression the big gray elephant in the room staring us in the face as we do our best to ignore it.
The 2013 fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) defines depression clinically as a depressive mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities over a two-week period, along with four of these symptoms: “changes in appetite or weight, sleep, and psychomotor activity; decreased energy; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions; or recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or suicide plans or attempts.”
Although depression affects both men and women, men kill themselves at rates four times higher than women. Of the 41,149 suicides in the U.S. in 2013, nearly 80 percent were men.
An American study of gay men found that those who perceived increased homophobia and danger were more likely to report depressive symptoms. Feeling unaccepted and rejected by the gay community—as do too many gay and bisexual men of color and those living with HIV—were also found to increase the risk for depression.
Read the full article.
From Canada’s CBC News…
When Saskatoon man Ian Longman found out he had HIV, it was two years before he sought treatment. He thought the diagnosis meant certain death, and he didn’t know treatment was an option.
Ian Longman almost died because he didn’t know treatment for HIV was available
“I just started hating myself and hating other people and hating what they were saying about me and stuff like that,” said Longman.
“Because I heard that you die from it so I thought that I was dying.”
In the months leading up to his hospitalization, he’d been shunned by his loved ones, who didn’t know that HIV could only be transmitted by sharing certain bodily fluids and not, for example, by sharing a cup.
Lack of education, understanding
It’s a lack of awareness that Sanctum executive director Katelyn Roberts said is common in Saskatchewan, a province in which doctors are calling the spread of HIV an “epidemic.”
“We have people in Saskatchewan who are in their 20s and they’re dying,” she said.
“And they’re not dying because of the HIV per se, they’re dying because they haven’t engaged in health care and by the time we catch them and we get them into the appropriate setting, it’s too late.”
Read the full article.
From the HRC… (by Diego Mora Bello, HRC Global Fellow)
Stigma and discrimination continue to be common barriers for people living with HIV. Fortunately, the media can play an important role in helping to remove these and other barriers. In my own survey of Latin American news articles mentioning HIV and AIDS, and in meeting with media professionals and advocates, I found that Latin American Media has room to improve its use of correct and destigmatizing language when talking about people living with HIV. Covering HIV both correctly and responsibly is important, because doing so is an essential part of raising awareness, debunking common myths, and giving voice to an already marginalized group of people.
The importance of using correct and responsible language in journalistic coverage of HIV inspired me to research this topic and share my findings. The ultimate goal of HIV in the Media is to report on this subject in a scientifically accurate and responsible way that inspires others to follow suit.
Based on my research, here are the top three reasons why language is important when covering HIV and AIDS in the media.
Read the full article on the HRC Website.
From the Advocate.com…
Last February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report predicting that, if things don’t change, one out of every two gay or bi black men will become HIV-positive in their lifetime. This statistic has been repeated endlessly, usually in connection with reasons why HIV rates are higher among African-American men who have sex with men. To be fair, there are a wide range of factors that play a part in raising HIV risks, including poverty, drug use, childhood sexual assault, and depression.
“We cannot separate the high infection rates among black gay men from several ills that continue to plague our society,” Greg Millet wrote for The Advocate in 2015. “Discrimination, poverty, stigma, and lack of access to health care all affect health care utilization for black gay men. As a result, a substantial proportion of black gay men remain undiagnosed, and others who are diagnosed and without the financial means to access medications will remain virally unsuppressed.”
Many of these factors also impact heterosexual black men, so what’s at the root of the disproportionate HIV rates for their queer brothers? One prevalent argument is that — because of excessive homophobia in the black community — black gay and bisexual men have low self-esteem. That lower self-esteem leads them to be more promiscuous, engage in riskier sexual behaviors, and even use drugs; which explains why HIV rates among black men who have sex with men is so high. Makes sense? Problem is, it’s also wrong.
Read the full article on Advocate.com.