Changes in Mental Health Among People with HIV During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Qualitative and Quantitative Perspectives

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People with HIV (PWH) are at risk for adverse mental health outcomes, which could be elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study describes reasons for changes in mental health among PWH during the pandemic. Data come from closed- and open-ended questions about mental health changes from a follow-up to a cohort study on PWH in Florida during part of the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020-March 2021). Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Among the total sample of 227 PWH (mean age 50.0, 49.7% men, 69.2% Black/African American, 14.1% Hispanic/Latino), 30.4% reported worsened mental health, 8.4% reported improved mental health, and 61.2% reported no change. The primary reasons for worsened mental health were concerns about COVID-19, social isolation, and anxiety/stress; reasons for improved mental health included increased focus on individual wellness. Nearly one-third of the sample experienced worsened mental health. These results provide support for increased mental health assessments in HIV treatment settings.


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