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High levels of anxiety among HIV outpatients

People gather around the doorway of a medical clinic in Battambang to receive HIV test results in 2014.
People gather around the doorway of a medical clinic in Battambang to receive HIV test results in 2014. Heng Chivoan

High levels of anxiety among HIV outpatients

The vast majority of people undergoing treatment for HIV and AIDS in Cambodia reported suffering anxiety, according to a new quality of life survey.

The report, published in the journal AIDS Care this week, used a World Health Organization measure to survey 150 outpatients undertaking antiretroviral therapy for HIV.

Some 72 per cent of interviewees reported they suffered anxiety, while more than a quarter said they had depression. The report highlighted that people living with HIV often had a deteriorated quality of life due to virus symptoms, medication side effects and social stigma.

“The association of poor [quality of life] with abnormal depression and anxiety clearly indicates the need to identify these psychiatric comorbidities early among [people living with HIV and AIDS],” the report read.

It found quality of life was lower among people over the age of 40 and those with incomes of less than $300 per month. Unlike studies conducted elsewhere in the world, the survey found Cambodian women with HIV fared better than men.

Study author Dr Youngran Yang said the survey focused on outpatients, who have less severe symptoms and a better quality of life than hospitalised patients, and stressed that those who go without treatment would experience a poorer quality of life.

Ly Penh Sun, director of the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD Control, said he observed anxiety in many patients, who feared they would pass on the infection to their loved ones.

While the stigma “really touched” people with HIV, he said, their quality of life generally improved with treatment, as they could work again and bolster their income.

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