Introduction

People living with HIV often experience feelings of depression. The online self-help program ‘Living positive with HIV’ was created especially to help participants learn to cope with having HIV and to improve their mood. Previous research has shown that the program is effective.

Feelings of depression

Having HIV means having to deal with a chronic illness and taking medication. Some people experience pain and fatigue or side effects from the antiretroviral drugs. HIV may also negatively impact one’s social life – for instance, some people experience relationship problems, discrimination or isolation. Experiences like this can cause a person with HIV to have negative emotions. These feelings can be recognized by, among other things, a sad mood, a tendency to withdraw or a lack of interest in things one used to enjoy. The self-help program on this website aims to help people with HIV to work on these feelings.

The self-help program

The self-help program provides participants with tools to help them deal with negative emotions. The self-help program has four key components: starting new activities, improving relaxation, changing negative thoughts and working towards concrete, personal goals. The online self-help program can be followed at home (it can be accessed from a computer or tablet) at times that suit the participant. There will be a weekly phone call with a coach to check how one is doing. There are eight lessons in which participants learn different skills by reading information and doing assignments. The program runs for about eight weeks and takes one to two hours each week.

How can I refer a patient to the online self-help program?

You can direct a patient with mild to moderate depressive symptoms to this website. More information about the self-help program can be found at the page ‘Information for potential participants’. This page also includes a questionnaire to determine the severity of one’s feelings of depression.

Is this online self-help program something for your patient?

An online self-help program is a good fit for people who like to work independently on assignments to improve their mood, with support from a coach over the phone. Participants can work on the program at times and places that suit them. It is, however, important that they have enough time to follow the program – about one to two hours a week. This program is intended for adults aged 18 and over who have been living with HIV for longer than six months. They will need to have a computer or tablet and an internet connection. They can follow the program in Dutch or English, and no costs are involved. None of their information or answers will be shared or used for research purposes. Following the program is completely anonymous.

Contact

If you have any questions, or if you would like to receive more information about the online self-help program, please send an e-mail to livingpositive@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.