Quality of life in women with symptomatic HIV/AIDS
Despite the increasing incidence of cases of human immune deficiency virus (HIV) infection and of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in women, there is a serious lack of information about those women’s quality of life (QoL). The purpose of this exploratory descriptive study was to describe QoL using an HIV-specific instrument (the HOPES) every 2 months over a 4-month period in a convenience sample of 44 women with symptomatic HIV/AIDS. Changes in physical, psychological, social, sexual dimensions, and overall QoL were evaluated along with the frequency of the most prevalent distressing items. The mean scores of the global QoL, physical and psycho-social summary scales were significantly different over the 4-month data collection period: quality of life improved. The most prevalent disruptions were in the psycho-social domain, including financial problems, worry about the family, distress about losing others from HIV, and worry about disease progression. The most prevalent physical disruptions included reduction in energy, difficulties with daily activities and frequent pain. Married women appeared to be more vulnerable to disruptions in QoL over time. In addition to the use of conventional disease-specific parameters for the ongoing follow-up of women with HIV/AIDS, the systematic use of a QoL assessment can provide a focused approach to monitoring problems and targeting interventions. Such an approach is especially important for nurses who assist women living with the symptoms of HIV/AIDS.