City Research Online

Hopelessness and HIV infection: an exploratory study with a gender-specific perspective

Nilsson Schönnesson, L., Ross, M. W., Garcia-Huidobro, D. , Eriksson, L. E. ORCID: 0000-0001-5121-5325, Andersson, G., Williams, M. L. & Ekström, A-M. (2022). Hopelessness and HIV infection: an exploratory study with a gender-specific perspective. BMC Psychology, 10(1), article number 46. doi: 10.1186/s40359-022-00755-2


BACKGROUND: An understudied psychological response to HIV-related stressors among people living with HIV is hopelessness. Hopelessness is the expectation that things will not improve and feeling helpless to change one's current situation. The aim of this study was to assess prevalence and levels of hopelessness and its direct and indirect contributors in people living with HIV in Sweden.

METHODS: Participants included 967 women and men from the "Living with HIV in Sweden" cross-sectional study with available data regarding hopelessness measured by the Beck Hopelessness Scale. Binary and multiple logistic regression analyses were used to determine direct and indirect factors that may contribute to feelings of hopelessness. Path analyses were used to assess the underlying structure of hopelessness. All analyses were conducted by gender.

RESULTS: Almost half the participants reported moderate to severe hopelessness. There were no differences in frequency of feeling hopeless or level of hopelessness by gender or sexual orientation. Dissatisfaction with finances, dissatisfaction with physical health, and low HIV-related emotional support were found to be directly associated with hopelessness for both women and men. Although having some indirect factors in common, unemployment and HIV stigmatization, women and men had different underlying structures of hopelessness.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings are important to HIV clinicians in identifying those at risk of hopelessness from a gender perspective in order to reduce preventable psychological distress among people living with HIV.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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