"The Journey I Have Been Through": The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Aging Well Among HIV-Positive Older Adults

Res Aging. 2018 Mar;40(3):257-280. doi: 10.1177/0164027517697115. Epub 2017 Mar 6.


The National Institutes of Health human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Aging Working Group identified spirituality as a research emphasis. This qualitative study examines the importance of religion and spirituality among 30 HIV-positive older adults. Using modified grounded theory, adults 50+ were recruited in Ontario, Canada, through AIDS service organizations, clinics, and community agencies. Descriptions of religion and spirituality encapsulated the idea of a journey, which had two components: the long-term HIV survivor profile combined with the experience of aging itself. A final category of HIV as a spiritual journey was finalized through consensus and included the properties of (1) being rejected by as well as rejection of formalized religion, (2) differentiating spirituality from religion, (3) having a connection, (4) feeling grateful, and (5) mindfulness and learning new skills. Interventions fostering resilience and strengths in HIV-positive older adults using spirituality should be considered, including the promotion of person-centered spirituality and interventions that include mindfulness and skill building.

Keywords: HIV; older adults; religion; spirituality; successful aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Long-Term Survivors / psychology
  • Healthy Aging*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness
  • Ontario
  • Qualitative Research
  • Religion*
  • Spirituality*