Cognitive processing, discovery of meaning, CD4 decline, and AIDS-related mortality among bereaved HIV-seropositive men

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1998 Dec;66(6):979-86. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.66.6.979.


This study investigated whether finding meaning in response to an HIV-related stressor was associated with changes in immune status and health. Forty HIV-seropositive men who had recently experienced an AIDS-related bereavement completed interviews assessing cognitive processing and finding meaning after the loss and provided blood samples for a 2- to 3-year follow-up. AIDS-related mortality over an extended follow-up was determined from death certificates. As predicted, men who engaged in cognitive processing were more likely to find meaning from the loss. Furthermore, men who found meaning showed less rapid declines in CD4 T cell levels and lower rates of AIDS-related mortality (all ps < .05), independent of health status at baseline, health behaviors, and other potential confounds. These results suggest that positive responses to stressful events, specifically the discovery of meaning, may be linked to positive immunologic and health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / mortality*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Bereavement*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Survival Rate