Approximately 22% of HIV diagnoses in 2015 occurred among youth aged 13-24. Much is known about the risk factors and psychopathology present in youth living with HIV (YLWH), however, relatively little is known about resiliency in this population. The current study sought to assess factors related to resilience and vulnerability among YLWH as well as the impact of psychosocial factors on these constructs using existing clinical data from an integrated care clinic serving YLWH in the southeastern United States. Data included findings from mental health screeners administered as part of the standard protocol of care for youth aged 13-24 including information about anxiety (GAD-7), post-traumatic stress disorder (PC-PTSD), depression (PHQ-A or PHQ-9), substance use (CRAFFT), and medication adherence (BEHKA-HIV Action subscale) as well as viral load and demographic variables. Hierarchical linear regression was used to determine factors related to biological (viral load) and behavioral indicators of resilience and vulnerability (BEHKA-HIV Action subscale and CRAFFT). Results showed that anxiety was a significant covariate of both biological and behavioral indicators of resilience while gender was a significant factor associated with behavioral indicators of vulnerability. None of the psychological or demographic factors examined in this study were associated with substance use, a behavioral indicator of vulnerability and resilience. Our results support the need for clinicians to screen for and monitor anxiety symptoms among YLWH in integrated care settings in an effort to promote resilience and minimize vulnerability. Practical, evidence-based strategies should be applied in clinical settings to address medication adherence and anxiety among YLWH.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS; psychological factors; resilience; vulnerability; youth and young adult.