Thursday, August 13, 2009

Women's body image complicates HIV treatment

This Article that shows that body image issues can be so deeply ingrained that it defies common safety and health.

Weight loss is a frequent complication of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but some women may be happy to lose that weight. Thus, the preferred body image of female patients with HIV may influence whether they accept medications or not. Medications (protease inhibitors) may increase weight, abdominal girth, breast size, and peripheral wasting.

A study at the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans looked at these issues and found 6 percent of HIV-infected African-American and 23 percent of non-African-American women had tried to lose weight in the past year. Almost 20 percent of non-African-American women preferred an underweight size, along with 1 percent of African-American women. Results were not affected by the stage of infection of the women.

Thus, the authors say, many female patients may try to attain body weights that are not helpful to their health status. Shortened survival in HIV is closely related to loss of lean body muscle. (Healthy Weight Journal 1999:14:2;19 / Clark RA, Niccolai L, Kissinger PJ, et al. Ethnic differences in body image attitudes and perceptions among women infected with HIV. J Am Diet Assoc 1999;99:735-737)


  1. Wow, just WOW! Not taking life-saving HIV medication to attain that "waisting" disease skinny? Insert swear word here! If anything is demonstrative of how "skinny" is preferred over "health" by the social conditioning of contemporary American culture, I don't know what is.

    Thanks so much for this important post!

  2. I try to bring balance and humor to the blog.