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Womens Health Issues. 2006 May-Jun;16(3):113-21.

Dyadic HIV status and psychological distress among women on methadone.

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Social Intervention Group, Columbia University School of Social Work, New York, New York 10027, USA.



Studies examining the association between psychological distress and HIV status among women belonging to populations at elevated risk for HIV have found mixed results. The goal of this study is to shed greater insight into possible explanations for the mixed findings of the earlier studies. Specifically, we examine psychological distress as a function of dyadic HIV status--that is, the combination of a participant and her partner's HIV statuses--among women attending methadone maintenance treatment programs (MMTPs).


A random sample of 349 female MMTP patients involved in intimate relationships provided self-reported data via structured, face-to-face interviews. Hypothesis testing involved multiple linear regression with 3 orthogonal contrast codes constructed from dyadic HIV status.


Levels of psychological distress did not differ significantly between HIV-negative and HIV-positive women. HIV-negative women with HIV-positive partners reported significantly greater global levels, number of symptoms, and symptom severity of psychological distress compared to those with HIV-negative partners. HIV-positive participants with HIV-positive partners reported significantly lower global levels and symptom severity of psychological distress compared to those with HIV-negative partners.


Findings support that psychological distress appears to differ as a function of the combination of a woman and her partner's HIV status rather than the woman's HIV status alone. Thus, dyadic HIV status represents an important factor with respect to the mental health needs of women in drug treatment.

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