Objective: Life stressors and coping style have been associated with alterations in cellular immunity similar to those seen in HIV-1 infection. The interval between infection with HIV-1 and the development of AIDS is lengthy and highly variable. This pilot study investigated whether life stressors and coping style may account for a portion of this variation. Method: A sample of eleven asymptomatic HIV-1 seropositive homosexual male volunteers responding to a local advertisement was assessed on life stressors, coping style and cellular phenotypic and functional immune measures-T4 'helper' cell/T8 'suppressor' cell ratio, T4 cell count, total lymphocyte count, and natural killer cell cytotoxicity. Results: Significant associations were observed for both major life stressor impact over the previous year and passive coping style use with the total lymphocyte count; higher life stressor impact and passive coping style use were associated with lower total lymphocyte counts. Similarly, a trend in the same direction was found for the relationship of these two measures with the count of T4 cells, which are directly infected and killed by HIV-1. Conclusions: It is well documented that decrements in T4 cell and total lymphocyte counts are powerful predictors of subsequent clinical progression to AIDS. These preliminary findings suggest that life stressors and coping style may also be predictors of the development of AIDS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health