Application of the DSM-IV criteria to the experience of living with AIDS: some concerns.
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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ABSTRACT: This study investigated the psychological impact of HIV infection through assessment of posttraumatic stress disorder in response to HIV infection. Sixty-one HIV-positive homosexual/bisexual men were assessed for posttraumatic stress disorder in response to HIV infection (PTSD-HIV) using a modified PTSD module of the DIS-III-R. Thirty percent met criteria for a syndrome of posttraumatic stress disorder in response to HIV diagnosis (PTSD-HIV). In over one-third of the PTSD cases, the disorder had an onset greater than 6 months after initial HIV infection diagnosis. PTSD-HIV was associated with other psychiatric diagnoses, particularly the development of first episodes of major depression after HIV infection diagnosis. PTSD-HIV was significantly associated with a pre-HIV history of PTSD from other causes, and other pre-HIV psychiatric disorders and neuroticism scores, indicating a similarity with findings in studies of PTSD from other causes. The findings from this preliminary study suggest that a PTSD response to HIV diagnosis has clinical validity and requires further investigation in this population and other medically ill groups. The results support the inclusion of the diagnosis of life-threatening illness as a traumatic incident that may lead to a posttraumatic stress disorder, which is consistent with the DSM-IV criteria.General Hospital Psychiatry 12/1998; 20(6):345-52. · 2.98 Impact Factor