Stress and trauma and their impact on the cervical, immunological, and sexual health of HIV+HPV+ women

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Michael Antoni - Committee Chair


In a population that is infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), it is important to look at chronic stressors, as well as traumatic stressors, such as rape, domestic violence and assault and how these stressors affect the women's health. Moreover, there is increased prevalence, incidence, and likelihood of death for women with both HIV and HPV from cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.Psychosocial interviews, blood analysis, and colposcopic examinations were analyzed for 42 HIV+ HPV+ African American, Haitian, Latino, and Caribbean women. It was hypothesized that women with greater levels of stress and trauma would have lower sexual self-esteem, decreased levels of sexual functioning, progression or persistence of squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL), higher HIV viral load and lower CD4 numbers and percent than women who had fewer episodes of trauma and lower stress levels.This study found that for forty-two HIV+ HPV+ women who had experienced traumatic events had greater sexual dysfunction than women who had not had trauma. Additionally, women who had greater intrusive thoughts about the fear of HIV/AIDS more found to have more sexual dysfunction. Twenty-nine women were included in a longitudinal analysis of the effects of stress, trauma and intrusive and avoidant thoughts on cervical health. Women who reported having trauma had worse cervical health (persistent or progressed SIL) measured 12 months later. Likewise, women who had greater intrusive thoughts about HIV/AIDS also showed poorer cervical health (progressed or persistent cervical disease). Thirty women were included in the analysis that looked at the relationship between changes in HIV viral load, and CD4+CD3+ percent and number over time. This study showed that avoidant and intrusive thoughts about HIV/AIDS predicted a decrease in CD4+CD3+ percent over time.Discovering the links between stress and health are necessary to bridge the gap between those who are seeking health information and services with those who can provide the answers, tools and strategies to help make these women's lives physically, mentally, and emotionally more healthy.


Psychology, Psychobiology; Health Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text