Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 24 (2), 294-304

Psychological Distress Mediates the Effect of Alexithymia on 2-Year Change in HIV Viral Load

Affiliations

Psychological Distress Mediates the Effect of Alexithymia on 2-Year Change in HIV Viral Load

Roger C McIntosh et al. Int J Behav Med.

Abstract

Purpose: Individuals with trait alexithymia (AL) display poor cognitive assimilation of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This may result in the persistence of stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders. The cumulative effect of this psychological distress is also linked clinical markers of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease progression. This study examines the indirect effect of AL on HIV viral load as a function of baseline levels and change in psychological distress.

Methods: N = 123 HIV positive adults aged 37.9 ± 9.2 years provided blood samples for HIV-1 viral RNA and CD4 T lymphocytes along with self-reported stress, anxiety, and depression every 6 months for 2 years. A second-order conditional latent growth model was used to represent baseline and 2-year change in cumulative levels of psychological distress and to test the indirect effect of baseline levels of trait AL on change in HIV-1 viral load through this latent measure.

Results: AL was associated with baseline and latent change in psychological distress. Furthermore, baseline psychological distress predicted 2-year change in HIV-1 viral RNA after controlling for viral load at baseline. Altogether, trait AL had a significant indirect effect on change in viral load (β = 0.16, p = 0.03) as a function of baseline levels of distress.

Conclusion: Identification and communication of thoughts, feelings, and emotions are important for long-term psychological adaptation in HIV. Greater psychological distress, in turn, allows for persistence of peripheral viral replication.

Keywords: Alexithymia; Anxiety; Depression; Human immunodeficiency virus; Latent growth modeling; Stress.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

References

    1. J Pers. 2004 Dec;72(6):1271-300 - PubMed
    1. Ann Behav Med. 2015 Jun;49(3):420-33 - PubMed
    1. Psychosom Med. 1998 Mar-Apr;60(2):204-14 - PubMed
    1. Psychosom Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;65(4):627-35 - PubMed
    1. Psychother Psychosom. 1985;44(4):191-9 - PubMed

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback