Maternal HIV status, psychosocial functioning, and toddlers' attachment
Gordy, Andrew Evan
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The primary goal of this study was to investigate toddlers' security of attachment as it relates to maternal HIV serostatus, with a secondary goal of examining maternal depression and social support as they relate to HIV status and toddler-mother attachment. The study consisted of two groups of participants (32 HIV infected and 42 uninfected mothers) from a lower socioeconomic population. The participants were presented with instruments that measured maternal depression (Beck Depression Inventory: Second Edition), perceived social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support), and toddler attachment behavior (Attachment Question Set).;Analyses revealed that the toddlers of HIV infected mothers had a significantly lower quality of attachment than the toddlers of uninfected mothers. While maternal depression related to and helped explain the quality of attachment (i.e., attachment security decreased with increases in maternal depression), perceived social support was, unexpectedly, not associated with toddler security. Furthermore, there was a tendency for HIV-positive women to be classified as "severely depressed" and to report lower levels of emotional support in comparison to their uninfected counterparts.;The finding that mother-child relationships appear to be at greater risk with HIV-positive mothers suggests that maternal caregiving skills may be negatively affected when mothers are infected. The results of this study emphasize the need to continue exploring factors that influence mother-child relationships within the HIV community.