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Fatigue in HIV infection was perceived as a barometer of disease progression

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Question How is HIV related fatigue experienced and managed on a daily basis by people with HIV infection or AIDS?

Design

A hermeneutic phenomenological study.

Setting

An inner city medical centre in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Patients

5 men and 5 women with HIV infection (mean age 33 y, 80% African-American) who reported that fatigue had developed since their previous clinic appointment. Fatigue was severe enough to affect activity levels. All participants were receiving disability benefits, lived alone, and 7 reported previous substance abuse.

Methods

Individual, semistructured interviews of 30–60 minutes were done at the clinic. Topics discussed were personal meanings of fatigue, subjective responses to fatigue, contextual description of when fatigue occurred and the interpretation of the fatigue, the effect fatigue had on daily life, how each person managed the fatigue, and how the fatigue associated with HIV infection was similar or different from non-HIV fatigue. Audiotapes were transcribed, initial interpretations were made, and a team of content experts …

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