Summary:Older men with HIV infection/AIDS, having often lived with the condition longer, are more likely to confront the stress of managing more advanced HIV disease than their younger counterparts. Meanwhile, they also are more likely to have less social support and experience more distress than younger persons with HIV infection. The moderating effect of social support on health functioning and distress is unknown for persons with HIV infection, particularly those who are older. Study objectives were to assess whether the association between perceived health functioning and psychological distress and well-being is moderated (or influenced) by social support and age and if the impact of social support on distress and well-being is more pronounced for older than for younger men living with HIV infection/AIDS. In this cross-sectional study of HIV-positive adult men (n = 199) who have sex with men, participants completed self-report assessments of perceived health functioning, social support, and psychological distress and well-being. Measures of health functioning and overall social support were significantly associated with outcome measures of distress and positive affect (all p < .05). However, the main effect for social support was qualified by a significant age-by-social support interaction for both outcomes (β = -.190, p < .01 for distress; β = .172, p < .05 for positive affect), indicating that the impact of social support on decreasing distress and increasing well-being was more pronounced in older men. The relationships between perceived health functioning and distress and well-being were not moderated by social support or age. The influence of social support on negative and positive moods in this population of HIV-infected men who have sex with men was significantly greater among older than among younger participants. With an increasing number of older people with HIV infection/AIDS, special efforts to create effective and sustainable social support interventions may be particularly beneficial to older persons living with HIV infection.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Margaret A. Chesney, PhD, Deputy Director, National Center of Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Director, Division of Extramural Research & Training, NCCAM, National Institutes of Health, 31 Center Drive, 2B11 Bethesda, MD 20982-2181. E-mail: chesneym@mail. nih.gov
© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.