Psychological symptoms among persons 50 years of age and older living with HIV disease

T. G. Heckman, B. D. Heckman, A. Kochman, K. J. Sikkema, J. Suhr, K. Goodkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Although persons 50 years of age and older account for 10% of all US AIDS cases, the mental health needs of this growing group remain largely overlooked. The current study delineated patterns and predictors of psychological symptoms amongst late middle-aged and older adults living with HIV/AIDS in two large US cities. In late 1998, 83 HIV-infected individuals 50-plus years of age (M = 55.2, Range = 50-69) completed self-report surveys eliciting data on psychological symptomatology, HIV-related life-stressor burden, social support, barriers to health care and social services, and sociodemographic characteristics. Based on the Beck Depression Inventory, 25% of participants reported 'moderate' or 'severe' levels of depression. HIV-infected older adults also evidenced an elevated number of symptoms characteristic of somatization. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that HIV-infected older adults who endorsed more psychological symptoms also reported more HIV-related life-stressor burden, less support from friends, and reduced access to health care and social services due to AIDS-related stigma. As the impact of HIV on older communities continues to increase, geropractitioners must be prepared to provide care to greater numbers of HIV-infected older adults, a substantial minority of whom will present with complex comorbid physical and mental health conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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