The Impact of Psychosocial Factors on Health and Retention Outcomes for People Living With HIV: Implications for Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators

Publication Date



Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin




Despite medical advancements that have significantly improved the health outcomes of people living with HIV (PLWH), many do not achieve optimal health outcomes due to psychosocial barriers. This 5-year retrospective longitudinal study draws upon the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) framework to conceptualize the relationships between personal and environmental factors and health and retention outcomes among a sample of 704 PLWH in Pennsylvania. A generalized estimated equations (GEE) model was used to model retention in care outcomes (at least one medical visit every 6 months) and a general linear mixed (GLM) model was used to analyze immune system health outcomes (CD4%). This exploratory study reveals that gender, age, race, use of antiretroviral (ARV) medications, use of case management service, mental health diagnosis, and alcohol use were significantly associated with retention in care, whereas race, ethnicity, gender, mental health treatment, use of ARV medications, use of case management services, and retention in care status were significantly associated with the immune system health outcome of CD4%. The results suggest a need for rehabilitation interventions to address key psychosocial issues, as rehabilitation counselors have a unique skill set to address the medical case management needs of individuals with HIV. Implications for rehabilitation counselors and educators are discussed.



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