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Measuring quality of life among people with HIV

Measuring health-related quality of life

In order to measure quality of life (QoL) among people with HIV (PLHIV), we need a tool that was designed for that purpose.

Firstly, this is because quality of life (QoL) is about how a person feels about their position in life. We cannot know how a person feels unless we ask them the right questions.

Secondly, HIV status and HIV-related stigma and discrimination impact on QoL in highly specific ways. So, it is only by asking specific questions about these unique experiences that we can gain an understanding of a PLHIV’s QoL.


HIV-specific health-related quality of life domains

The PozQoL Project worked extensively with PLHIV to identify four important HRQoL domains:

  • Psychological domain
  • Social domain
  • Health concerns domain
  • Functional domain

The psychological domain

The psychological domain includes mood, coping, hope for or fear of the future, and self-worth.


The social domain

The social domain is about personal and social life. It includes feelings of belonging, support, and social stigma.


The health concerns domain

The health concerns domain is about how someone feels about their own health. It includes health-related worries and energy. It also includes how easy they find it to manage HIV and HIV treatment.


The functional domain

The functional domain is about whether a person feels that they can live what they would call a “normal” life. It includes independence, meaningful occupation, and good standard of living.


Measuring health-related quality of life among people with HIV using PozQoL

The PozQoL Scale measures HRQoL by asking 13 questions across these four domains. PozQoL Scores can be calculated separately for each domain, or as an average across all domains.

Working through the PozQoL questions with patients or clients helps clinicians and support workers to better understand how their patient or client is faring. Because there are only 13 questions, the process is fast and simple. Service providers can gain immediate insights into a client’s health and needs. This leads to improved quality of care and better health outcomes for PLHIV.

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