Perceiver and relationship effects on perceptions of HIV status: A naturalistic study in a high drug use sample

Health Psychol. 2006 Nov;25(6):771-7. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.25.6.771.


This article examines the effect of target, perceiver, and relationship characteristics on the perceiver's assessment that the target may be HIV seropositive (HIV+). A sample of 267 persons was recruited from low income, high drug use neighborhoods. Respondents (perceivers) were asked to name people (targets) with whom they had a social, drug sharing, or sexual relationship. Perceivers described 1,640 such relationships. Perceivers were asked about the targets' age, gender, and race/ethnicity, whether the targets were good-looking, their level of trust with the target, and how long they had known them. Perceivers were then asked to evaluate the chances that the target mentioned was HIV+. Two regression models were estimated on the 1,640 relationships mentioned. Model 1 included variables reflecting only target characteristics as independent variables. Model 2 included variables reflecting target characteristics as well as variables reflecting perceivers and perceiver-target relationship characteristics. The results showed that targets that were female, younger, and good-looking were perceived as being less likely to be HIV+. However, when accounting for perceiver and relationship effects, some of the target characteristic effects disappeared.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Poverty Areas
  • Social Perception*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • Texas