The fork in the road: HIV as a potential positive turning point and the role of spirituality

H. Kremer, G. Ironson, L. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We interviewed 147 HIV-positive people regarding their key life-changing experiences - involving profound changes in attitudes, behaviors, beliefs (including spiritual beliefs), or self-views - to determine the prominence of HIV as the key positive/negative turning point. HIV was the key turning point, for 37% (26% positive, 11% negative), whereas for 63% of our sample it was not. Characteristics associated with perceiving HIV as the most positive turning point included having a near-death experience from HIV, increasing spirituality after HIV diagnosis, and feeling chosen by a Higher Powerto have HIV. Notably, perceived antecedents of viewing HIV as the key positive turning point were hitting rock bottom and calling on a Higher Power. Conversely, viewing HIV as the most negative turning point was associated with declining spirituality after diagnosis. Spirituality can both negatively and positively affect coping with HIV. Promoting positive spiritual coping may offer new counseling approaches. Further, for the majority of the participants, HIV is not the key turning point, which may be an indicator of the normalization of HIV with the advent of effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-377
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Benefit finding
  • Life events
  • Spirituality
  • Turning points

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology


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