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Psychological Disturbance in AIDS Patients

Abstract: What psychological complications would you expect in a patient with a newly diagnosed AIDS?

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Psychological Disturbance in AIDS Patients

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Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:

First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 28 Aug 2008.

What psychological complications would you expect in a patient with a newly diagnosed AIDS?


Patients who are diagnosed with AIDS are especially prone to psychological problems.

As well as facing the possibility of death, some also have to cope for the first time with their family discovering that they are gay or bisexual.

They may become intensely angry with the person whom they believe infected them, and feel guilty that they can have passed the virus to their beloved ones: partners, or children.

The recognition that such tragedy could have been avoided may add to their despair and guilt and may lead to suicidal feelings and/or attempts.

The hypothesis of complications like an AIDS-related dementia is so frightening that some patients would rather die than face such a complication.

Of course, the social implications of the disease and the ensuing isolation it brings adds to the stress.

Group support and home care are essential if these patients are to have a decent quality of life for as long as possible, and for this reason they are standard procedure in many AIDS therapeutic programs around the world.

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