Reactions to a Probable Diagnosis of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder: A Content Analysis

Academic Article


  • Half of the people living with HIV have cognitive deficits indicative of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs). With few treatment options, informing patients about a HAND diagnosis is a questionable practice. A sample of 139 people living with HIV were administered gold-standard cognitive tests; scores were used to determine whether they met cognitive criteria for HAND. Participants were informed that they met the criteria for HAND and asked 2 open-ended questions about their reactions to learning this information. Participant responses were recorded verbatim and coded into 3 overarching themes: positive, indifferent, and negative. Positive responses contained subthemes of confirmation, gratitude, desire for improvement, and curiosity. Indifferent responses contained nonreactive responses, apathy, and confusion. Negative responses contained surprise, discontentment, fear, and denial. Although most participants responded positively to feedback about HANDs, others experienced distress. Nurse clinicians should be mindful about informing patients if they have HAND while also educating them about brain health.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Vance DE; Robinson J; Walker TJ; Tende F; Bradley B; Diehl D; McKie P; Fazeli PL
  • Start Page

  • 279
  • End Page

  • 289
  • Volume

  • 31
  • Issue

  • 3