We prospectively related coping strategies and immunologic measures in HIV‐1 seropositive and seronegative gay men over the 1‐year period following notification of their antibody test results. First, we related 18 asymptomatic HIV‐1 seropositive men's coping responses to antibody status notification with concurrently measured phenotypic and functional immunologic markers. Repeated‐measures ANOVAs indicated that seropositive subjects scoring above the median on post‐notification disengagement coping strategies (denial, behavioural disengagement, mental disengagement) had significantly lower concurrently measured T‐helper/suppressor (CD4/CD8) cell ratios, T‐inducer subset (CD4+CD45RA+) percentage values, and proliferative responses to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) than subjects scoring below the median on these scales. Disengagement coping responses also predicted 1‐year follow‐up immune markers; greater disengagement predicted poorer lymphocyte responsivity to PHA. Thirty sociodemographically‐equivalent, HIV‐1 seronegative gay men showed the opposite pattern such that greater disengagement coping predicted significantly greater lymphocyte responsivity to PHA and larger CD4+CD45RA+ percentage values at 1‐year follow‐up. Together these preliminary findings suggested that: (a) coping strategies relate to immunologic status differentially for infected and non‐infected risk group members; (b) strategies that distract seropositive individuals from the stress of infectivity are related to more impairment on some immunologic markers; and (c) these relationships occur concurrently and some appear to persist over as long as a 12‐month period.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology