Many individuals with HIV/AIDS experience periods of unemployment as their physical symptoms increase. However, some in treatment do continue or return to employment.
The purpose of this study was to compare a sample of individuals with HIV/AIDS who successfully return to employment and those that do not. The factors included disease-related factors and service-related factors.
The setting was an HIV/AIDS primary care clinic of a large, university-affiliated hospital.
The study sample consisted of 135 patients whose records indicated that they had successfully regained employment following disease-related job loss. A matched cohort of individuals with HIV/AIDS who had not regained employment was selected as a comparison group.
The data consisted of patient clinical records related to HIV/AIDS treatment and symptoms and services delivered. Statistical analyses consisted of descriptive statistics and analysis of variance (ANOVA).
The majority of predictor variables were related to HIV/AIDS, such as CD4 cell count and length of time in treatment. However, the effects of one intervention were also included, the provision of mental health services.
A matched comparison group was selected consisting of individuals with HIV/AIDS who had not returned to work following disease-related job loss.
Substance use disorders were more prevalent in those who had not achieved return to work. Those who had returned to work were more likely to have received mental health assessment and treatment.
Mental health services may serve as a gateway to return to work for many individuals with HIV/AIDS. In addition, identifying patients who are already being treated by the mental health team in order to assess their desire and ability to return to work is an important first step in increasing the effectiveness of a return to work program.