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AIDS. 2006 Sep 11;20(14):1851-60.

Psychological resources protect health: 5-year survival and immune function among HIV-infected women from four US cities.

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Yale School of Public Health and Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8034, USA.



Guided by Cognitive Adaptation Theory, the aim was to determine whether psychological resources (positive affect, positive expectancy regarding health outcomes, finding meaning in challenging circumstances) protect against HIV-related mortality and decline in CD4 lymphocyte counts among women with HIV.


The HIV Epidemiologic Research Study, a longitudinal prospective cohort study, with semi-annual interview, physical examination and laboratory assays.


A total of 773 HIV-seropositive women aged 16 to 55 years were recruited from four academic medical centers in Baltimore, Maryland; Bronx, New York; Providence, Rhode Island; and Detroit, Michigan. Semi-annually for up to 5 years, the women were interviewed, underwent physical examination, medical record abstraction, and venipuncture. Primary outcomes for these analyses included HIV-related mortality and CD4 cell count slope decline over 5 years.


Psychological resources were inversely associated with HIV-related mortality and time to death, beyond the effects of potential confounding variables such as clinical status (e.g., HIV viral load, symptoms, antiretroviral therapy), sociodemographic characteristics (e.g. age, race), and depression at study entry (P < 0.05). Psychological resources also were inversely associated with CD4+ cell count decline (P < 0.01), serving as a possible mechanism linking resources to mortality.


Psychological resources may protect against HIV-related mortality and immune system decline. Findings have implications for understanding individual variability in HIV disease progression. Moreover, because psychological resources are potentially amenable to change, results can be applied to clinical interventions aimed at improving the health of women with HIV.

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