Couple identity and well-being in Chinese HIV serodiscordant couples : resilience under the risk of stigma

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

2 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S58–S66
Journal / PublicationAIDS Care
Issue numbersup5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Resilience literature has suggested the context-specific nature of resilience while such framework has yet to be expanded to health psychology research among HIV serodiscordant couples. Conceptualizing a couple affected by chronic diseases using a “we-ness” framework rather than two separate individuals is important for stress coping of the couple. Considering this social-cognitive context of couple coping would be helpful to facilitate resilience of both the patient and the spouse. It is not clear whether couple identity serves as a protective factor for HIV serodiscordant couples and whether stigma, a prevalent contextual risk in this population, will alter the strength of such a protective effect on well-being. This longitudinal study examined the protective effect of couple identity in predicting the psychological and physical well-being of HIV discordant couples and the moderating role of stigma in such associations. A total of 160 Chinese HIV serodiscordant couples completed the baseline survey and follow-up one year later. Results showed that couple identity predicted fewer depressive symptoms at both the within- and between-couple level and better self-rated physical health at the between-couple level one year later. These protective effects were diminished when HIV stigma was high. This study highlights the importance of examining resources with consideration of contextual factors. It also calls for the sensitivity of stigma in developing a couple-based intervention for HIV serodiscordant couples.

Research Area(s)

  • couple identity, depressive symptoms, HIV, physical health, stigma