Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Elwin C. Nielsen


William R. Dobson


This study addressed the issue of the relationship between psychological well-being and immune function in a sample of HIV seropositive homosexual and bisexual males. A control group of HIV seronegative gay males was included. The study assessed the relationship between various psychological independent variables and immune system functioning over a 24-month time period for the seropositive subjects. Data on depression, coping style, psychosocial stress, and psychomatic symptoms were collected at baseline, as well as data on depression at 12 months and CD4 counts at 6-month intervals over a 2-year period. Preliminary analyses comparing HIV seropositive to HIV seronegative subjects showed differences on four of eight coping style scales, as well as on all of the psychogenic attitudes scales reflecting stress levels.

There were no effects of eight coping styles on immune system functioning for the seropositives. However, there were significant relationships among four of six psychogenic attitudes scales (chronic tension, premorbid pessimism, future despair, and somatic anxiety) and immune system functioning for the seropositives. There were also significant effects of three scales measuring psychosomatic symptoms (Allergic Inclination, Gastrointestinal Susceptibility, and Cardiovascular Tendency) for the seropositives. However, there was no effect of level of depression on immune system functioning.

The final chapter discusses the findings given the existing body of research. The emphasis is on the need to develop interventions targeting stress levels among persons with AIDS, as well as on conducting further research utilizing carefully constructed longitudinal research designs.



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