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Altruism and HealthPerspectives from Empirical Research$
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Stephen G. Post

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.001.0001

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Altruism and Health in HIV

Altruism and Health in HIV

(p.70) 5. Altruism and Health in HIV
Altruism and Health

Gail Ironson

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents research on altruism and health in the context of people living with AIDS. It begins with a review of the literature on AIDS patients who volunteer to help others with the illness. This literature indicates that, as a result of such helping, the volunteers develop a positive sense of self, increase safer sex behaviours, and feel at greater peace with regard to their own future deaths. It then turns to the chapter's own research on a group of seventy-nine long-term survivors of AIDS (people who have survived twice as long as expected), who were compared with a group who had AIDS with a normal course of the illness. The long survivors were significantly more likely to have engaged in AIDS volunteerism and had significantly less depression, anxiety, and perceived stress. In a subsequent study on the psychological predictors of slower disease progression, the chapter again notes that volunteering, giving to charities, and expressing caring for others are related to better prognosis in AIDS and to less emotional distress.

Keywords:   AIDS patients, altruistic behaviour, health, volunteering, volunteerism

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