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ABSTRACT: Abstract Emerging research suggests the importance of psychosocial characteristics (e.g., coping and social support) for positive adaptation among youth with behaviorally acquired HIV. However, little is known about how these traits interact with cognitive abilities to impact emotional and behavioral adjustment. This study examined whether coping skills and executive functioning interact in their association with psychological adjustment in HIV-positive youth. Data from Project Adolescents Living with HIV/AIDS (ALPHA), a study to examine psychosocial, behavioral and neuropsychological functioning of youth with behaviorally acquired HIV, were used. Fifty-nine participants, aged 14-23, diagnosed with HIV prior to age 20 and receiving care in one of two HIV clinics in Atlanta or New York City, were recruited, consented and enrolled. Participants completed measures of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory), conduct disorder (Adolescent Symptom Index), and use of positive and negative coping strategies (Kidcope). The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) assessed abstract reasoning (categories completed) and cognitive inflexibility (perseverative errors). In this sample of HIV-positive youth, depressive symptoms were best predicted by an interactive combination of negative coping skills and poor neuropsychological functioning. Neuropsychological functioning (cognitive inflexibility) and negative coping skills were directly associated with conduct disorder symptoms. Results highlight the importance of including neuropsychological assessment in the evaluation of HIV-positive youth, particularly those with emotional or behavioral problems.
AIDS Care 06/2012; · 1.60 Impact Factor