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J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2009 May-Jun;20(3):169-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jana.2009.01.002.

Facial lipoatrophy: appearances are not deceiving.

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  • 1College of Nursing of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil.


Lipodystrophy syndrome (LS) has been reported as visible markers that can identify HIV status. Changes in body shape are detrimental in terms of psychological welfare and may affect well-being and increase the stigma associated with HIV disease. In the current study, the psychosocial impact of LS was evaluated. A total of 84 HIV-infected patients receiving antiretroviral therapy and exhibiting dyslipidemia were interviewed in an urban hospital setting in Brazil in 2006 using a standardized questionnaire. Of the 84 patients exhibiting dyslipidemia, 40 patients also exhibited body changes, and of these, 25 had facial lipoatrophy. From a psychosocial perspective, patients presenting with facial lipoatrophy reported alterations in self-image and self-esteem and believed that other people noticed their body changes. The results are relevant for nurses who need to be well-prepared to recognize lipodystrophy, to implement nursing interventions including lifestyle changes, and to provide psychosocial support to patients with LS.

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