Purpose: To record symptoms experienced by people with HIV/AIDS, and describe useful self-care strategies and how symptoms impact on daily life.
Method: A questionnaire was used with self-reported answers and descriptions of how symptoms impact on daily activities and suggestions for useful self-care strategies. Four hundred and twenty-two (n = 422) HIV-positive persons from seven sites in the USA and one site in Norway (n = 20) answered the questionnaire.
Results: In this article subjective symptom descriptions from the Norwegian sample are presented along with self-care strategies and their effectiveness. Findings revealed the Norwegian sample to be a little older, maybe less anxious and depressed, than participants in the larger study. This difference might be explained by the structure of the national social and health care system in Norway, where treatments, medications and social services are available to all citizens without cost. Respondents described a number of related symptoms as well as their subjective explanations of what triggered the symptoms. Most of the self-care strategies were learnt by trial and error.
Recommendations: Community health providers, nurses and physicians should become more knowledgeable about the symptoms that infected persons struggle with, as well as the impact these symptoms have on routine daily self-care activities and a person's quality of life. There is need for more research about helpful self-care strategies to assist HIV-positive persons to manage their symptoms and to disseminate these to community health providers and support groups for HIV infected persons.