Optimism, distress, and immunologic status in HIV-infected gay men following Hurricane Andrew

Stacy Cruess, Michael Antoni, Kristin Kilbourn, Gail Ironson, Nancy Klimas, Mary Ann Fletcher, Andy Baum, Neil Schneiderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study investigated how dispositional optimism relates to psychological and immunologic status in 40 HIV-infected gay men residing in areas of South Florida hard hit by Hurricane Andrew. In the months following the storm, participants' levels of psychological distress (hurricane-related and overall distress) and antibody titers to several herpesviruses (Herpes Simplex Virus-2, Epstein-Barr Virus [EBV], Cytomegalovirus, and Human Herpes Virus-6 [HHV-6]) were measured. Overall, participants had elevated mean levels of hurricane-specific and general distress. Higher levels of optimism were related to lower levels of depression, overall distress, and hurricane-specific posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. After controlling for nonspecific polyclonal B cell activation, greater optimism was also associated with lower levels of circulating antibodies to EBV and HHV-6, suggesting better cellular immunologic control over these viruses among optimists. Regression analyses showed that therelation between optimism and lower EBV titers was partially mediated by the lower depression levels experienced by optimists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-182
Number of pages23
JournalInternational journal of behavioral medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • HIV
  • Hurricane
  • Immunity
  • Natural disasters
  • Optimism
  • Psychoneuroimmunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology


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