View of God as benevolent and forgiving or punishing and judgmental predicts HIV disease progression

J Behav Med. 2011 Dec;34(6):414-25. doi: 10.1007/s10865-011-9314-z. Epub 2011 Feb 22.


This study assessed the predictive relationship between View of God beliefs and change in CD4-cell and Viral Load (VL) in HIV positive people over an extended period. A diverse sample of HIVseropositive participants (N = 101) undergoing comprehensive psychological assessment and blood draws over the course of 4 years completed the View of God Inventory with subscales measuring Positive View (benevolent/forgiving) and Negative View of God (harsh/judgmental/punishing). Adjusting for initial disease status, age, gender, ethnicity, education, and antiretroviral medication (at every 6-month visit), a Positive View of God predicted significantly slower disease-progression (better preservation of CD4-cells, better control of VL), whereas a Negative View of God predicted faster disease-progression over 4 years. Effect sizes were greater than those previously demonstrated for psychosocial variables known to predict HIV-disease-progression, such as depression and coping. Results remained significant even after adjusting for church attendance and psychosocial variables (health behaviors, mood, and coping). These results provide good initial evidence that spiritual beliefs may predict health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disease Progression*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Religion*
  • Viral Load / statistics & numerical data