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People living with HIV need better psychological support

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Services for people living with HIV are not meeting their psychological needs, says a new report by NAT (National AIDS Trust).

The report Psychological support for people living with HIV shows a lack of adequate psychological support can have a severe impact on someone's health and well-being.  NAT says more must be done to give support to people with psychological needs – at present these needs are too often overlooked because of a tendency for people to focus only on physical health. 

 Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, says:

“People can often find it difficult to come to terms with an HIV diagnosis and deal with the ongoing implications.  Psychological support can be as important for the health and well-being of someone living with HIV as going to the doctor or taking treatment.  This form of support can be the crucial difference between finding every day a struggle and feeling able to cope with and enjoy daily life.

Providing such psychological support is more cost-effective in the long-run as it means that people living with HIV can manage their condition, take treatment properly and stay healthy.  It is essential that, at this time of cuts, decisions are not made which may save money in the short-term but will increase the burden on the NHS in the long-run.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Evidence of higher prevalence of psychological need amongst people living with HIV compared with the general population
  • HIV and mental health problems are both highly stigmatised often making people unwilling to speak out about their needs
  • Psychological needs of people living with HIV are not being met consistently by the NHS
  • Investing in psychological support for people with HIV will have significant benefits in the long-run for individual and public health

Mark*, who is living with HIV, spoke about the impact of having a mental health problem:

 “They reduce our immunity… If you are carrying so many things in your head there is no way you’re going to cope with your medication. So it comes back to HIV.”

* name has been changed

Abbott, the global health care company, provided funding for this project to help ensure a copy of the report reaches every HIV clinic in the UK.

“Mental health has become a major focus for Abbott's HIV community engagement.  Despite the advances in and access to treatments, many people living with HIV tell us that the psychological burden of the disease significantly compromises their quality of life.  NAT's report will help inform all stakeholders about the need to consider the psychological impact of living with HIV on the quality of life and, consequently, health care provisions,” said an Abbott spokesperson.

Notes to the editor:

The report is available to download at:

For further information please contact:

020 7814 6767

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs approximately 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.  Abbott has been operating in the UK for more than 70 years and currently has operations in Maidenhead, Berkshire (UK Headquarters), Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, the Midlands and Oxfordshire. An Investor in People and one of the UK’s Best Workplaces for 2010, Abbott employs approximately 2,000 people nationwide.  Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's websites at and

Abbott and HIV and AIDS
Abbott has been a leader in HIV and AIDS research since the early years of the epidemic.  In 1985, the company developed the first licensed test to detect HIV antibodies in the blood and remains a leader in HIV diagnostics.  Abbott retroviral and hepatitis tests are used to screen more than half of the world's donated blood supply.  Abbott has developed two protease inhibitors for the treatment of HIV.  For more information on Abbott's HIV and AIDS programmes, please visit and