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UCLA study shows contracting HIV can serve as an opportunity for positive change and growth

Contracting HIV would be a devastating experience for anyone. However, a new UCLA study suggests that many HIV-positive individuals believe that their infection and its life-threatening consequence served as a personal milestone that positively changed many aspects of their lives.

The UCLA study, published in the current issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that HIV-positive women in the Los Angeles area believe that in addition to negative feelings about being infected with a life-threatening condition, becoming HIV-positive also served as the impetus to live a healthier life, with new priorities and a stronger focus on positive emotional and personal issues.

We learned that these women, some of whom have been dealing with the effects of HIV infection for years, report many positive changes in their lives in addition to drawbacks, said UCLA researcher John Updegraff, the lead author of the study.

Despite the fact that HIV is life-threatening, and causes tremendous financial and social burdens, these women found that coping with HIV infection made them feel wiser, stronger and more focused on the issues that truly matter to them, such as their families, their children or their community, Updegraff said.

The UCLA study based its findings on interviews with a multiethnic sample of 189 women from the Los Angeles area. The participants were asked a range of questions that focused on how being HIV-positive had changed their lives.

The study found that 75 percent of the women felt that their views of themselves had changed for the better since learning they were infected with HIV. Further, more than half of the women (53 percent) felt that being HIV-positive had changed their life priorities for the best as well. Overall, the number of benefits reported in the survey was almost double the number of drawbacks.

The women in our study found that their perspectives on life changed, so many of t
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Contact: Harlan Lebo
hlebo@college.ucla.edu
310-206-0510
University of California - Los Angeles
29-Mar-2002


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