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AIDS. 1990 Feb;4(2):145-52.

Psychological responses to serological testing for HIV.

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Cornell University Medical College--New York Hospital, New York.


To determine the emotional impact of serological testing for HIV, 218 physically asymptomatic adults were evaluated in a confidential clinical setting 2 weeks before HIV test notification, immediately before and after notification, and 2 and 10 weeks later. All received extensive pre- and post-test counseling. The 179 seronegatives reported one or more HIV risk behaviors: homosexual intercourse (n = 111), heterosexual intercourse with possibly infected partners (n = 62), intravenous drug use (n = 20). Immediately after notification, seronegatives had significant decreases in visual analogue scale (VAS) measures of anxiety, depression, fear of getting AIDS, and fear of having infected others. Reductions were sustained at both follow-up assessments and were complemented by significant reductions on standardized self-reported measures of anxiety (Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory, SAI), depression (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI), and psychiatric symptoms (Brief Symptom Inventory, BSI) as well as by clinical ratings of depression (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, HDRS). Of 39 seropositives, 35 had homosexual risk behaviors, seven had been intravenous drug users (IVDUs; four of whom were homosexual men), and one was a female partner of an IVDU. Immediately after notification, VAS measures of their anxiety were not significantly increased, and at 10 weeks after notification, their VAS measures of distress and mean scores on BDI, SAI and BSI were significantly lower than at entry. Their HDRS ratings were not significantly increased.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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