Application of the DSM-IV Criteria to the Experience of Living with AIDS

Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
Journal of Health Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.22). 12/2008; 13(8):1008-11. DOI: 10.1177/1359105308097964
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A diagnosis with HIV is often considered traumatic. According to the DSM-IV-TR's criteria for PTSD, a traumatic event precipitates a set of reactions in an individual that includes avoidant behaviour, intrusive thoughts, and physiologic hyperarousal. However, persons diagnosed with HIV are typically concerned with events that will occur in the future such as physical decline and death, access to treatment, the welfare of dependants, and stigma and discrimination. Their concerns are thus future-oriented rather than anchored to a past traumatic event, which is the requirement of PTSD. This article argues that an HIV diagnosis may be inappropriately regarded as traumatic.

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