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Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research

ISSN: 2155-6113

Open Access

Health Protective Behaviors among Young People Living with HIV/AIDS

Abstract

Ricardo D. LaGrange, Stephanie J. Mitchell, Maria Lewis, Susan Abramowitz and Lawrence J. D’Angelo

Young people living with HIV/AIDS (YPLH) in the post-HAART era have the potential to manage their HIV as a chronic illness rather than as an almost inevitable terminal disease. However, little is known about behaviors YPLH can engage in to promote or protect health beyond taking anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines. The current study fills an important gap in existing research by identifying correlates of Health Protective Behaviors (HPB) within an urban sample of YPLH. Participants (n=134) were recruited from two pediatric clinics serving adolescents living with HIV who met the following criteria: HIV-infected and aware of their status, 13-24 years old, residing in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, currently prescribed ARV or due to begin ARV within 3 months, and able to understand and sign a written consent form. Each participant was interviewed via Audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) and reported the percentage of possible time they engaged in six HPB during the prior month using a 10-point scale (e.g., 5=50%). Results indicate that most patients engaged in the measured health protective behaviors more than half the time, although patients 18 and older engaged in all HPB less frequently than their younger counterparts. Patients with adherence > 90% were far more likely to engage in HPB than those with poorer adherence. The age differences in HPB highlight a need for broader scaffolding in the transition to independent living and adult health care. Given the relationship between adherence and HPB, the establishment and maintenance of healthy lifestyle practices early in adolescence can translate into positive long-term health outcomes.

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