Study: Telephone support groups may help older HIV patients

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 26 2003 11:00 PM ET

A study funded by the National Institute on Aging shows that older people with HIV/AIDS may benefit from participating in telephone support groups to help combat feelings of isolation, HIV-related stigma, and depression. The study, presented at the annual National Association on HIV Over Fifty Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., and conducted by researchers at Ohio University, evaluated the effectiveness of 12 one-hour conference calls between small groups of HIV-positive people and a social worker. Study participants discussed coping with HIV disease, stress management, aging, and support issues.

"The older adults who went through the intervention said they felt they could cope better," researcher Lori Brown told The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch. Participants also reported less stress after the telephone support sessions. Lead researcher Timothy Heckman said he believes such outreach programs for older HIV-positive people are needed because most support services currently in existence target younger patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11% of the nation's reported AIDS cases are in people over age 50.