Home // Know Your Body // Man // Mental Health

Mental Health

HIV brings changes and challenges, but it's a virus; it doesn't define who you are. Depression and anxiety are also experienced more commonly by people with HIV, and often symptoms are not obvious. However, there are many things you can do to help yourself manage these challenges.

What you can do to live well:

  • Talking to a counsellor can help or there are organisations that offer courses to help you develop coping skills, including on-line courses.
  • Each time you see your doctor, try talking about how you are feeling. Your doctor can discuss the available support services and treatment options with you if required.
  • Your local AIDS council or PLHIV organisation can also assist you to find the best support service for your situation.
  • A good social support network can also be helpful.

Dementia and Cognition - ability to think and reason

HIV-associated dementia is a concern for many HIV-positive people, but in countries with access to HIV treatments (like Australia) it is now extremely rare unless HIV is diagnosed very late. HIV crosses the blood brain barrier and infects cells of the brain, usually shortly after infection. As a result, long-term HIV infection may cause cognitive changes and HIV-associated dementia. Prior to the highly active HIV treatments that are now being used, this was very common, but it is now rare if treatments are started soon enough.

What you can do to live well:

  • Start HIV treatments before problems arise.
  • Some HIV drugs are more effective at crossing the blood brain barrier than others, so speak to your doctor about other treatment that may work better for you,
  • Monitored for any early signs of dementia such as decreases attention or concentration, reduced speed of information processing, slowing of psychomotor responses, and some altered higher brain functions (these can be tested).
  • Ask your doctor about getting a baseline neurological test done.