December 1st is World AIDS Day. While it's important to acknowledge the physical toll that AIDS takes on the body, it's also crucial to acknowledge the mental health effects of the disease. Historically, HIV and AIDS have been associated in the US with the gay community, but many, many people outside the LGBT community become infected every year. In 2010, over 10,000 heterosexual individuals contracted HIV.
For many people living with AIDS, the diagnosis can be devastating. The financial burden of treatment can be overwhelming. The social stigma surrounding the disease can be isolating. It's important to remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, especially on a day like World AIDS Day.
The mental health of people living with HIV/AIDS is often neglected. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people living with HIV are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. The stress of living with a chronic illness can be exacerbated by the fear of stigma and discrimination. isolation, and financial problems. People living with HIV might also struggle with grief and trauma related to the loss of loved ones to AIDS. It’s important to remember that these feelings are normal and that there is help available. It is also important to acknowledge the deep cultural trauma experience by those who lived through the AIDS crisis before there was research, understanding, resources, and funding to support those living and dying from AIDS.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with your feelings. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis counseling for people in distress. You can also call the Trevor Project’s Lifeline for 24/7 support from trained counselors if you are a LGBTQ youth in need of someone to talk to.If you want to learn more about how you can support people living with HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day and beyond, please visit www.worldaidsday.org
While there has been considerable progress made in the fight against AIDS, including drugs like PeP and PrEP that dramatically reduce the viral load of HIV and/or chance of becoming infected, there is still no cure. People living with AIDS often have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty and fear. The mental health effects of AIDS can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse.
World AIDS Day is an important day to reflect on the physical and mental toll that HIV/AIDS takes on those who have been diagnosed with the disease. If you are living with HIV/AIDS, it's crucial to seek out professional help if you are struggling with your mental health. There are many organizations and companies that offer support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Taking advantage of these resources can help you manage the mental health effects of AIDS.
Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.