Implications of Different Strategies for Coping with AIDS
Sheila Namir Deane L. Wolcott Fawzy I. Fawzy Mary Jane Alumbaugh University of California, Los Angeles Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
AIDS creates a multifaceted group of stressors that often exceed the coping abilities people have developed before becoming ill. The disease frequently has an adverse impact on vocational and social functioning, self- esteem, mood states, physical abilities, family and other relationships, and sexual functioning ( Christ & Weiner, 1985; Fornstein, 1984). Successful coping might have an impact on the length and course of survival, the functioning of the immune system, physical symptoms, mood, role and social functioning, and one's self-concept.
Coping with the AIDS crisis is a topic that is important for our society as a whole. Although this chapter will focus on coping with a diagnosis of AIDS and living with AIDS in a way that may diminish emotional problems associated with a life-threatening illness, coping also has preventive aspects. We need to develop strategies to help people who are worried about AIDS, who are seeking to change their behaviors in ways that will prevent contracting the virus responsible for AIDS, who are positive for HIV-antibodies, and who are bereaved. These coping strategies will have to address traditional issues of people with a life-threatening illness; the vast literature on stress, coping, and adaptation; the psychological knowledge about behavior change; and issues of prejudice and social discrimination.
The current study explored the relationship of coping to both psychological and health parameters in gay men with AIDS. Coping has been defined in a variety of ways, including Lazarus and Folkman's ( 1984) process-oriented definition of coping as "constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts