Common elements in self-management of HIV and other chronic illnesses: an integrative framework

AIDS Care. 2009 Oct;21(10):1321-34. doi: 10.1080/09540120902803158.


HIV/AIDS is widely recognized as a chronic illness within HIV care, but is often excluded from chronic disease lists outside the field. Similar to other chronic diseases, HIV requires lifetime changes in physical health, psychological functioning, social relations, and adoption of disease-specific regimens. The shift from acute to chronic illness requires a self-management model in which patients assume an active and informed role in healthcare decision making to change behaviors and social relations to optimize health and proactively address predictable challenges of chronic diseases generally and HIV specifically. This article reviews literature on chronic disease self-management to identify factors common across chronic diseases, highlight HIV-specific challenges, and review recent developments in self-management interventions for people living with HIV (PLH) and other chronic diseases. An integrated framework of common elements or tasks in chronic disease self-management is presented that outlines 14 elements in three broad categories: physical health; psychological functioning; and social relationships. Common elements for physical health include: a framework for understanding illness and wellness; health promoting behaviors; treatment adherence; self-monitoring of physical status; accessing appropriate treatment and services; and preventing transmission. Elements related to psychological functioning include: self-efficacy and empowerment; cognitive skills; reducing negative emotional states; and managing identity shifts. Social relationship elements include: collaborative relationships with healthcare providers; social support; disclosure and stigma management; and positive social and family relationships. There is a global need to scale up chronic disease self-management services, including for HIV, but there are significant challenges related to healthcare system and provider capacities, and stigma is a significant barrier to HIV-identified service utilization. Recognizing that self-management of HIV has more in common with all chronic diseases than differences suggests that the design and delivery of HIV support services can be incorporated into combined or integrated prevention and wellness services.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Decision Making
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation*
  • Self Care / methods*