"This Illness Ain't Gonna Kill Me" -- A Qualitative Insight to Various Behavioral and Biopsychosocial Factors of Stress for Adults Living with HIV




Ramos, Stephen D.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Research on HIV and stress is not uncommon in academic literature. However, little research has been done through a qualitative psychological perspective that aims to identify specific realms of stress people living with HIV (PLH) experience. Furthermore, there is no developed psychosocial measurement of stress specific to living with HIV that can be used in either clinical settings or research settings. This study uses Grounded Theory qualitative methodology and semi-structured interviews to assess and conceptually develop stress in PLH. Participants (n=20) were 12 PLH and 8 individuals who work primarily with clients who are living with HIV. Participants participated in semi-structured interviews where interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for data analysis. Identified themes included Housing Strains, Engagement in Substance Use, Limited Financial Abilities, Relationship Dynamics, Internal Pressures, and Psychosocial Resiliency. Results from this study suggest that unsatisfactory housing situations, such as location, lack of choice, and intrusive environment, can foster growth of stress. Engagement in substance use can be seen as both a previously utilized and familiar method of coping with stressors as well as a rational behavior that does not cognitively register as coping with stress. Limited financial means can create a constraint cycle where the individual is unable to fund basic necessities and is thus unable to be employed; this cycle can lead to a situation of strained financial resources. Because of this cycle, necessities are often placed on a hierarchy of demand and neglect. With regard to relationships, HIV can both build and sever bonds with others, depending on how disclosure is received. Lastly, data showed an overall positive regard towards life and towards the future as HIV+ individuals progress in life. These accounts can be utilized in creating a greater understanding of stress for PLH and in developing a more comprehensive and cohesive care for PLH and experiencing stress.



HIV, Substance use, Stress


Ramos, S. D. (2016). <i>"This illness ain't gonna kill me" -- A qualitative insight to various behavioral and biopsychosocial factors of stress for adults living with HIV</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI