Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin Larkin.


The current study examined the link between immune functioning (CD4 count) and physical symptoms, as well as the moderating role of optimism and depressive symptoms, in a sample of 99 low income, inner city African American women with HIV. Although there was no main effect of CD4 count on physical symptoms, depressive symptoms moderated the association between CD4 count and physical symptoms. More compromised immune functioning (lower CD4 count) was associated with more physical symptoms under conditions of higher levels of depressive symptoms, but not lower levels of depressive symptoms. This finding was observed using both a self-report measure and a clinician-rating of women's depressive symptoms. There were no main or interactive effects for optimism, suggesting that optimism may not significantly moderate the impact of immune functioning on physical symptoms. The finding that depressive symptoms function to exacerbate the physical impact of CD4 count among African American women has several implications for clinical work among this population. Specifically, the assessment and treatment of depressive symptoms may enhance both emotional and physical functioning among this population. Directions for future research are presented.