Religion and Spirituality
Religion and spirituality have been found to be important resources for individuals living and coping with HIV/AIDS. These coping methods include spiritual transformation, a belief in a higher power and/or miracles, prayer, and collaboration between the individual and God or a higher power. Studies have found that individuals’ reliance on such methods is associated with greater levels of optimism, hope, self-esteem, social support, and helping others; less emotional distress; lower cortisol levels, which indicate lower stress levels; and longer survival. Individuals may also derive a sense of purpose and of peace from their religious or spiritual beliefs. Increased frequency of church attendance has been found to be associated with keeping current with medical appointments. Among injection drug users, more church attendance has been found to be associated with HIV testing, HIV-positive status, and receiving medical care for HIV, suggesting that the church may be both an important source of support and friendship for injection drug users.