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Patient-Centered Counseling Important Factor In Getting ‘AIDS Denialists’ Into Care

The Conversation: How AIDS denialism spreads in Russia through online social networks
Peter Meylakhs, associate professor and senior research fellow at the International Centre for Health Economics, Management and Policy at the Higher School of Economics; Yadviga Sinyavskaya, researcher at the Higher School of Economics; and Yuri Rykov, junior research fellow at Higher School of Economics

“…AIDS denialists reject scientific facts and claim that all the evidence of HIV existence has been concocted by corrupt scientist … To understand how some HIV-positive individuals become AIDS denialists and what can be done about it, we undertook a mixed-method study of the largest AIDS-denialist community present on Russia’s largest social network, VKontakte. … Three important factors were determined: inadequate counseling, denial of the diagnosis because informants ‘felt good,’ and unwillingness to follow antiretroviral treatment. … The best way to prevent individuals from being tempted by AIDS denialism is to provide good quality, patient-centered counseling and properly manage treatment side effects. For those who are still in throes of denialism, our study came up with the following recommendation: ‘Believe whatever you want but check your immune status. Just in case.’ This can help bring a patient closer to getting care, hopefully before it’s too late” (4/3).

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