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To determine the effect of sun exposure on HIV progression.Cross-sectional survey nested within a longitudinal cohort study.The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study.A total of 1155 white HIV-seronegative and 496 white HIV-seropositive homosexual men, of whom 142 seroconverted during the study.T-helper lymphocyte decline and AIDS.No positive correlation was found between the development of AIDS or loss of T-helper lymphocytes and (i) phenotypic characteristics associated with enhanced ultraviolet radiation (UVR) sensitivity (hair or eye color, skin type), or (ii) reported UVR exposure (sun lamp/tanning bed use, frequency of beach vacations, sunscreen use), or (iii) composite score of UVR sensitivity and exposure history. The composite scores and individual measures of risk were not correlated with rate of T-helper lymphocyte decline (slope) based upon rank correlation (correlation coefficient, 0.04; P = 0.32). In fact, individuals purposefully seeking the sun had slower T-helper lymphocyte declines. Sensitivity to UVR was also not significantly associated with AIDS [odds ratio (OR), 1.11 per unit of higher composite score; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.66–1.88; P = 0.63]. Among individuals who were HIV-infected at baseline, those who have been purposely seeking sun exposure were less likely to have AIDS (OR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.39–1.11; P = 0.12).These data suggest that phenotypic characteristics of high UVR sensitivity and exposure are not highly correlated with decline in T-helper lymphocyte count or with progression to AIDS.