STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to determine if there is an association between social network and social support and the CD4 cell count in HIV infected homosexual men. DESIGN--The study was cross sectional. A structured questionnaire assessing psychosocial factors such as social network and social support was administered at interview. Information on CD4 cell counts and HIV symptoms were obtained from participants' medical records. SETTING--The study population consisted of all HIV seropositive homosexual and bisexual men who had not been diagnosed as having AIDS seen at the Department of Infectious Diseases, the only hospital clinic in the city of Malmö (230,000 inhabitants), Sweden that provides care for HIV infected patients. PARTICIPANTS--Altogether 47 (68%) of 69 men in the population agreed to be interviewed. MAIN RESULTS--A low CD4 cell count was found more frequently in men with low social participation scores (OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.0, 11), in those with a low adequacy of social participation (OR 3.8; 95% CI 1.1, 13), and in men with low material support scores (OR 3.9; 95% CI 1.1, 13). After adjustment for age and time of awareness of the HIV infection, the two former associations remained statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS--These results, if reproduced in a longitudinal study, might suggest that psychosocial factors can affect an individual's immune system.
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