Personality, stress, and social support in HIV risk prediction

Robert C. McMahon, Robert M. Malow, Terri E. Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study evaluated whether baseline levels of avoidant, antisocial, and dependent personality features and perceived stress and social support predict 12 month follow-up levels of unprotected sex in 141 male veterans undergoing alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse treatment that included an HIV transmission risk reduction (HIV-TRR) component. Because our focus is on psychosocial predictors of level of unprotected sex after completion of AOD/ HIV-TRR treatment, we first controlled for potential confounds including (a) intake level of unprotected sex and (b) both intake and follow-up AOD abuse values. Further, because associations between both stress and social support and level of risk behavior may be attributable to underlying pathological personality factors, we controlled for these factors in analyses of stress and support effects. Sequential regression was employed to determine if personality and then stress and social support characteristics improved prediction of unprotected sex after entering covariates. Pretreatment levels of unprotected sex and dependent personality significantly predicted unprotected sex during follow-up. Avoidant personality was associated with reduced risk linked with lower levels of sexual involvement. Perceived stress and social support did not significantly predict level of unprotected sex during follow-up. We found significant decreases in levels of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine and in the number reporting IDU. Implications for developing personality-sensitive HIV prevention interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-410
Number of pages12
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • HIV risk
  • Personality
  • Stress
  • Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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