A large survey of people living with HIV in various Western nations has shed light on various key issues affecting their lives, including attitudes about antiretrovirals (ARVs), relationships with clinicians and dealing with stigma.

Sponsored by ViiV Healthcare, a major ARV manufacturer, researchers conducted the Positive Perspective survey among 1,111 people living with HIV in Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. They presented their findings at the 16th European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) in Milan, Italy.

The investigators presented preliminary findings from the survey in July at the 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science in Paris (IAS 2017). At that time, they reported that 86 percent of the survey’s respondents said that upon diagnosis, their main HIV clinician offered them emotional support, referred them to counseling or otherwise informed them about emotional support services. Also, 25 percent believed that if HIV medical providers received better education, this would help reduce feelings of stigma among their patients. Eighty-two percent said they had experienced some form of HIV-related stigma during the previous 12 months. Thirty-seven percent said they hid their ARVs to keep their HIV status secret.

Among the newly presented findings from the survey are:

  • 52 percent of the respondents were on ARVs within six months of their HIV diagnosis.
  • 88 percent of those diagnosed within the past two years started ARVs within six months, compared with 40 percent of those diagnosed more than 10 years ago.
  • Among the 98 percent who were on ARVs, 56 percent said they are currently very satisfied with their treatment.
  • 43 percent of those who have switched ARVs during the past year did so primarily to deal with side effects.
  • 25 percent of those who switched their ARVs said it was solely or primarily their clinician’s decision to do so, while 11 percent said that it was solely their own decision.
  • 71 percent reported being very comfortable raising their concerns with their primary HIV clinician, including 81 percent of those in North America and 62 percent of those in Europe.
  • 89 percent believe that future advances in HIV treatment will improve their quality of life.
  • 72 percent sometimes worry about the long-term effects of ARVs.
  • 51 percent of men and 28 percent of women said that when they were diagnosed, the person they most turned to for support was a close friend.
  • 3 in 10 said they were generally open about their HIV status.
  • More than a quarter reported that quite or very often they have feelings of self-blame, guilt and secrecy regarding their HIV status.

To read a press release about the survey, click here.

To read the full report, click here.