For many individuals in treatment for HIV/AIDS, living a life dictated by a complicated regimen of daily medications and on-going health monitoring can take an emotional toll. When compounded by other problems: depression or mental health issues, social stigma, family conflict, substance abuse, poverty, or other difficult life events, it can become especially challenging to adhere to a demanding treatment routine.
Adhering to Medications
When HIV+ people neglect to follow their prescribed treatment plans, they put their health at risk. Poor adherence to an HIV regimen allows the virus to destroy the immune system, and a damaged immune system makes it hard for the body to fight off infections and certain types of cancer. Additionally, HIV+ individuals who are not adhering to a treatment plan are more likely to carry high viral loads, which increase their risk of infecting a partner through sexual contact.
To combat the negative effects of lapses in treatment adherence, PERSAD CENTER provides ongoing counseling and support groups that address the need for treatment consistency; educate participants about their medication and what can be expected from treatment interventions; and help people to process their feelings and concerns about side effects and the challenges of maintaining motivation for positive self-care.
The agency’s compassionate counseling and support services are designed to help clients navigate the life changes that come with managing a chronic illness, and learn self-affirming and healthy ways to deal with anger, fear, or despair they might experience. HIV support groups provide safe forums for clients to build social support and discuss a range of issues, while Qigong and wellness sessions help clients to practice daily intentional wellness strategies that address nutrition, exercise, stress management and mindfulness. Adapting a personal strategy for wellness and healthy behaviors can decrease an individual’s risk of re-infection, or infecting others.
PERSAD CENTER is grateful to have its efforts boosted by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation through the PA Department of Health, as well as the Lambda Foundation, which are helping to support our HIV treatment adherence programs. By supporting HIV+ individuals in their efforts to maintain healthy habits and self-care, we are all partners in helping to foster a healthier and better informed community.