Waiting for AIDS test results among older adolescents: Impact, suicidality, anxiety, hopelessness

Sandra L. Billie


This study examines reasons for living, suicidal ideation, anxiety, hopelessness and impact recalled by older adolescents during their wait for IIIV, other STD, or ACT/SAT test results. Previous research in the area of waiting for diagnostic test results has not focused on possible distress experienced by adolescents during the wait for HIV test results, those done on adults have not compared the waiting period to those of other medical and non-medical waiting periods. One hundred eighty-five participants, ages eighteen to twenty-one were recruited from psychology courses at a Southeastern university. Measures of distress included the Reasons for Living Scale (Linehan, Goodstein, & Chiles, 1983), Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (Reynolds, 1991), State Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, 1983), Impact of Event Scale (Horowitz, Wilner, & Alvarez, 1979) and the Hopelessness Scale (Beck, Weissman, Leter, & Trexler, 1974). Results showed that there were no differences in amount of overall distress between those waiting for HIV or other STD test results, although the HIV group recalled more feelings of hopelessness than the ACT/SAT group, and the STD group recalled more of an emotional impact, although scores were not much higher than in a normal population. Results also indicated that those who were tested for STD or both HIV and other STDs were likely to know others for these diseases and that belief in a poor outcome was associated with more suicidal ideation. Results have implications for therapeutic services for individuals who are experiencing stressful life events, and for educating adolescents about testing procedures for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.