Monday, January 14, 2002

UC plans to study HIV patients

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Despite facing the threat of a deadly disease, some patients with the virus that causes AIDS say their lives have improved since they've been infected. The University of Cincinnati plans to use a $1.5 million federal grant to understand why.

        The grant, from the National Institutes of Health, allows a more detailed follow-up to a 1999 UC study of 51 patients with HIV/AIDS that found 49 percent said their lives were better after they became infected.

        “If we can figure out why certain patients with HIV/AIDS feel their life is better now ... perhaps we can design interventions to help those who don't feel that way,” said Dr. Joel Tsevat, director of outcomes research at UC and lead investigator for the study.

        More than 200 HIV-infected patients from UC and more than 125 from George Washington University Medical Center in Washington will be interviewed over the next four years to explore quality-of-life concerns.

        Many people with AIDS say they have become more spiritual, more religious, Dr. Tsevat said. Some are living better daily lives because they have kicked drug addictions or changed behavior that caused their infection. Others have gained a new focus on what matters in life. Some also see their experience as an opportunity to help others.

        “Clearly, not all HIV/AIDS patients feel this way, but a large chunk of them do,” Dr. Tsevat said.

        The study will include interviews with more people, with a wider range of illness and from a wider variety of economic and demographic backgrounds. Also, people will be interviewed twice to see how their attitudes change.


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