Approximately 1,000,000 Americans have HIV/AIDS. Although advances in treatment have made HIV/AIDS a relatively manageable chronic disease, the disease can cause significant morbidity and mortality. Surprisingly, research has found that some HIV/AIDS patients feel that their life is better than it was before they had HIV/AIDS. Many of these patients show a strong will to live and often express a preference for longevity over quality of life. Patients who prefer longevity often ascribe their feeling to spiritual growth, or finding a meaning to life. This study is examining the spiritual beliefs of HIV/AIDS patients and will determine the relationship between spirituality, health status, and the will to live.
The study consists of interviews with HIV/AIDS patients from Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. who have been interviewed twice over 12 to 18 months. During the interviews, participants completed self-report scales to assess their quality of life, life satisfaction, concerns about medication, trust in their health care providers, depressive symptoms, self-esteem, optimism, and various clinical and demographic variables. Participants were also asked about their spiritual well-being; spiritual beliefs; spiritual, religious, and social support; and overall functioning.