Social Support and the Development of Immune Function in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection


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Abstract

A psychosocial investigation offered to all human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected men with moderately severe or severe hemophilia in Sweden was made in 1986. Most of these men had been infected in the years 1980 to 1984 and told about their infections in 1985. Forty-nine subjects had answered questions in regard to sources of emotional support in their life situation. Based on the responses to these questions a score of "availability of attachment" (AVAT) was calculated, and two groups of patients were identified: one with high AVAT and one with low AVAT scores. The subjects were followed with regard to the state of their immune system, as reflected by CD4 counts, until 1990. The results indicated that a low AVAT score in 1985 was associated with a significantly more rapid progressive deterioration in CD4 count during subsequent years. The mechanism behind this associated is unknown. Several possible confounders were not studied. However, if the association between a poor AVAT score and rapid CD4 deterioration after HIV infection is replicated in other samples, it could be important to the future clinical care of HIV-infected subjects.

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