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  • Lauren Stewart

People who are HIV-positive sought for anonymous online survey

13 June 2012

Learning you are HIV-positive is a life-changing diagnosis and for some people it causes negative psychological effects that hinders their everyday life.

QUT researcher Lauren Maree Stewart, from QUT's School of Psychology and Counselling, is calling for gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men, and are living with HIV to participate in an online survey designed to explore the effects on their mental health and health behaviours.

"I'm looking at HIV stigma. There is not a lot of research in Australia on this but we do know that people can internalise the stigma of living with HIV to become part of their identity," Ms Stewart said.

"This can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and possibly less adherence to their medication regime.

"Some individuals may also self-stigmatize and withdraw from society because they fear people's reaction if they disclose their HIV status."

Ms Stewart said some people living with HIV fear their friends will stop talking to them if they know and some have also reported a reluctance to tell others in the workplace for this reason.

"On the other hand, we know that some people who are living with HIV do not suffer mental health problems and my study is aimed at finding out about the ways they cope to remain mentally healthy," she said.

"If we can get an insight into what factors make these people psychologically resilient, we hope to use that to develop ways to help people cope when they receive the diagnosis."

Ms Stewart said the study is completely anonymous and participants could not be identified from their survey participation. Participants are also given the opportunity to be entered into a draw to win one of two $100 iTunes vouchers.

To complete the survey go to: http://survey.qut.edu.au/survey/173190/1bc8/

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.