Although emotional distress is extensive both when HIV seropositivity is first determined and during symptomatic stages of the infection, it is not known if distress also characterizes the often lengthy asymptomatic period. To ascertain if it does, a sample (N = 45) of asymptomatic HIV seropositive gay males was assessed on emotional distress, stressors, and coping styles. Data were compared with available normative data as well as with a small control sample (N = 13) of seronegative gay males. On emotional distress indices, the majority of seropositive participants scored below the norms for psychiatric patient groups, resembling more the norms for non-patients, although there was a distressed subset. Despite evidence of considerable event-related stress, the moderate levels of currently-perceived stress among the seropositives indicated that as a whole they were not feeling overwhelmed. Coping styles did not appear to be disrupted in that they were nearly identical to normative data. In comparison to seronegative controls, study participants evidenced more emotional distress and life events stressors, but again minimal differences in coping style. Implications of these findings are discussed regarding the health-related value of emphasizing the positive coping potential in asymptomatic HIV infection.
- emotional distress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health