College of LAS « Illinois

Speech Communication

Activism May Help Those With AIDS Cope Better With Illness

Most living organisms are composed of a set of 20 amino acids, which are the so-called basic building blocks of life.

The world AIDS conference in June offered a dose of grim news: More than 30 million people worldwide are now infected with AIDS, with some 16,000 people becoming infected every day. AIDS now qualifies as the worst epidemic in the past 100 years.
Against this gloomy backdrop, researchers in LAS are offering at least one glimmer of hope. Speech communication professor Dale Brashers was the lead investigator in a study that showed that social activism in groups such as ACT UP may help people with AIDS and its precursor, HIV, cope with their medical and psychological problems.

The research team found that in comparison with nonactivists, activist group members used more problem-focused coping and less emotion-focused coping; had greater knowledge of HIV-treatment information sources; and had greater integration into networks of people living with HIV or AIDS.

" Many individuals living with HIV or AIDS have engaged in social activism and advocating for their healthcare needs," says Brashers. "They have had a major impact on the healthcare system, such as changes in how prescription drugs are tested and approved. Now it appears that their behaviors also are reflected in more active engagement with their healthcare providers and more fully developed support networks of other people living with the disease. There appear to be advantages to a more active orientation toward health care."

October 2003