According to a new study, people living with HIV are 300% less likely to develop depression if they own a dog. It turns out, having a dog really makes your life better.
According to a study conducted at the Children's Hospital Of Chicago, HIV patients who own a dog are 300% less likely to be depressed.
Just a few weeks ago, a group of scientists from Northeastern University in Boston published a paper that seems to prove that humans like dogs more than other humans. It isn't that hard to see why, though: dogs have several advantages over humans. They are sensitive, faithful, adorable, and cute. Petting them is the best antidote to anything stressful or anxiety-inducing in humans.
But scientists always like to go one step beyond, and so, a team led by Ann and Robert H. Lurie from the Children’s Hospital of Chicago decided to test the idea that having a dog is good for HIV-positive patients, and the results have been truly remarkable because they found out that having a dog results in being 300% less prone to develop depression, compared to those who don't own a dog.
It seems very straightforward, but in reality, it is not. HIV-positive people are prone to deep depressive states, which directly incides on their immunological system -already compromised because of the virus- and therefore makes them less responsive to retroviral therapy, which is much more effective if the person is relaxed and happy.
The study, which was conducted to test the benefits of having a dog for people living with HIV, included 199 HIV patients 18 years or older. Most of them were white, heterosexual males (because the call for volunteers to be part of it was made through social media). Clearly, this sample is not representative of the epidemic demographics, but it is an indicator for some demographic groups affected by it.
A curious fact about the relationship between dogs and their owners with HIV is that most patients in the study got their pets after their diagnosis, and a few got the dog as part of the therapy.
The people behind this study admit it is not perfect, but it does offer a glimpse into a possibly great hope for this bond between animals and humans. And this small effort might have as a consequence to improve the quality of life of people who have to endure social stigma associated with their HIV status.
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