HIV or human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and can be transmitted during sexual intercourse, sharing infected syringes, perinatally during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
People living with HIV may be diagnosed with AIDS when they have one or more opportunistic infections that occur because HIV weakens the immune system, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, and have a very low number of CD4+ T cells (less than 200 cells per cubic millimetre of blood).
The stress associated with living with a serious illness or condition, such as HIV, can affect a person’s mental health. It is important for people living with HIV to know that they have a higher chance of developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. For example, depression is one of the most common mental health conditions faced by people living with HIV. It is important to remember that mental disorders are treatable. People who have a mental disorder can recover completely.
Understanding how living with HIV can affect mental health and knowing what resources are available can make it easier for people to manage their overall health and well-being.
People living with HIV should be open and honest with their provider about any changes in their mental health, such as thinking or how they feel about themselves and life in general. People living with HIV should also discuss any alcohol or substance use with their provider.