The Psychological Impact of HIV/AIDS:
more than statistics
Cathleen Bezuidenhoudt (University of Namibia)
Hermien Elago (Polytechnic of Namibia)
Evelina Kalenga (University of Namibia)
Salome Klazen (Polytechnic University)
Kadiva Nghipondoka (University of Namibia)
Prof. Diane Ashton, Facilitator (University of Namibia)
HIV/AIDS is a topic that has been greatly discussed and researched due to its’ impact on human
Ever since the HIV/AIDS virus was identified, people have been trying to find ways of educating
others about this virus.
Many campaigns have been put into place, and people have been made aware of the
various effects of the virus.
We must remember that this virus has not only physiological effects, but also
major psychological effects.
This paper will focus on the psychological effects of the HIV/AIDS virus on
people living with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers.
Those living with HIV/AIDS will be referred to as
, while the personal caregivers and family members will be referred to as
. We define psychological
effects as those thoughts, feelings, emotions that affect the mental state and well-being of the infected and
In the general HIV/AIDS research, statistics are used to present findings. Statistics do not actually
explain critical matters of concern such as the psychological manifestations of HIV/AIDS.
This is of concern
because the research done then becomes a matter of statistics and the other personal issues that are important
are not thoroughly discussed.
It is in this light that the objective of this paper is to emphasize the impor-
tance of awareness of the psychological effects of HIV/AIDS, such as: fear, loss, grief, guilt, denial, anger,
anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, suicidal behavior and thinking, and socio-economic issues.
“The psychological or internal challenges a person with HIV/AIDS faces vary from individual to
Not everyone will experience all of the emotional responses or stages of the emotional responses
described. Each HIV/AIDS situation is as unique as the people involved.
There are individuals who might
face catastrophic changes not only in their personal and job relationships, but in their physical bodies and in
their self-images and self-esteem.” (Watstein and Chandler, 1998).
As a result of these changes in both work-
ing and personal relationships, the behavior of those infected may change.
They may become withdrawn,
aggressive, and rude to colleagues and friends.
This may be because the infected person may feel (or imag-
ine) being victimized.
Infected, and in some cases, affected, people can experience a decrease in self-esteem
as they are no longer confident in themselves or what they can achieve.
This is likely caused by the stigma
within society against infected and affected people.
They are seen as lesser persons and are at times devalued.
This in itself is of course detrimental to the person’s well-being.