A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Psychosocial Responses To Having AIDS and Related Conditions in London and San Francisco
Kristy Straits Lydia Temoshok Jane Zich School of Medicine University of California, San Francisco
The psychosocial ramifications of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have only recently begun to be quantified, although biomedical research has been ongoing since the appearance of AIDS in the United States in 1979. In interviews with people with AIDS, Morin, Charles, and Malyon ( 1984) found that, although their medical needs were addressed, their psychological needs were not. Themes of uncertainty, isolation, self-blame (illness as retribution), and general fears of life-threatening illness, such as fears of disability, loss of body control, pain, and death, have been reported in consultations with people with AIDS ( Dilley, Ochitill, Perl, & Volberding, 1985; Gorman, 1986).
In addition to dealing with a progressively degenerating illness, people infected with HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Type 1, previously referred to as HTLV-III, ARV, or LAV) too often must confront the stigma attached to culturally deviant behavior, especially homosexuality. Some gay men find that, while in the midst of coming to terms with an HIV infection, they must take on the added burden of coping with the reactions of friends and family, who often were not aware of the patient's sexual orientation until diagnosis. Additionally, the phenomenal expenses incurred with HIV disease,