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Relationship of Symptoms, Perceived Health, and Stigma With Quality of Life Among Urban HIV-Infected African American Men


Aaron G. Buseh, College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1921 East Hartford Avenue, Room 569, Milwaukee, WI 53211. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Objectives: To explore the relationship of symptom prevalence and intensity, perceptions of health, and stigma on quality of life (QOL) among HIV-infected African American men.

Design: Cross-sectional correlational descriptive study.

Samples: The sample consisted of HIV-infected African American men (N=55), all urban, age range 23–66 years (M=48.84, SD=7.67), average length of time since HIV diagnosis 10.79 years (SD=6.4).

Measurements: A questionnaire consisting of 5 instruments was used: (a) sociodemographic characteristics, (b) Holzemer Signs and Symptom Checklist for HIV, (c) perceptions of health, (d) Berger HIV Stigma Scale, and (e) Holmes HIV/AIDS-Targeted Quality of Life Scale.

Results: Prevalent symptoms were fatigue (98%), fear (92.7%), shortness of breath (92.7%), gastrointestinal upset (85.5%), numbness (80.0%), and headache (76.4%). Symptoms with the highest intensity were gastrointestinal upset, body changes, fear, and fatigue. Symptom intensity was significantly associated with the measures of stigma and QOL.

Conclusions: The results underscore the importance of incorporating a holistic view of the relationship of symptoms with QOL for HIV-infected African American men. Without efforts to ameliorate stigmatizing effects, however, nurses may be falling short in helping individual African American men with HIV infection achieve a better QOL.