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Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2016 Apr;22(2):196-204. doi: 10.1037/cdp0000060. Epub 2015 Jul 6.

An examination of actor-partner social support effects on HIV-related problems and interpersonal outcomes among a sample of HIV-positive African American dyads.

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Department of Psychology.
Department of Communication.
College of Nursing.



Social support is an important resource that has been associated with better mental and physical health outcomes among HIV-positive people. However, researchers have not adequately explored how social support functions among HIV-positive African Americans. The purpose of the current study was to understand whether HIV-related support resources are associated with relational functioning and HIV-related problems among a sample of HIV-infected African American dyads.


Exactly 34 HIV-infected (i.e., seroconcordant) dyads compromised of HIV-positive African American adults and their HIV-positive adult "informal supporters" from 3 Midwestern urban cities completed psychosocial questionnaires and a communication task. Using the actor-partner interdependence model, we analyzed dyadic data to determine whether there were actor and/or partner effects within dyadic relationships on measures of conflict and HIV-related problems, communication about these problems, and health symptoms.


We found significant negative relationships between perceived support and HIV-related problems and perceptions of problem inequity within dyads and a positive relationship between perceived support and communication about these problems within dyads. Contrary to our expectations, we found no relationship between social support and HIV symptoms, relational conflict, or perceptions about dyadic partners' HIV-related problems.


Although our study precludes drawing causal conclusions, we found evidence of a relationship between the personal experience of HIV-related problems, communication about these problems, and perceptions of social support among a small sample of HIV-infected African American dyads. These findings suggest the need to consider how support-related communication within HIV-infected dyads might influence and be influenced by problem perceptions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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