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Compassionate love predicts long-term survival among people living with HIV followed for up to 17 years.

Ironson, G., (pictured left) Kremer, H., & Lucette, A. (published online Jul 30, 2017). Compassionate love predicts long-term survival among people living with HIV followed for up to 17 years. Journal of Positive Psychology. 10.1080 /17439760.2017.1350742

Correspondence Author: Gail Ironson, MD., Ph.D. University of Miami School of Medicine, Email: gironson@aol.com

A budding literature has shown the benefits of compassionate love on psychological well-being. Yet, much less is known about its relevance for health outcomes. The purpose of the present study is to examine the effects of compassionate love on survival among people living with HIV (PLWH).  177 PLWH at the mid-stage of illness participated in a longitudinal study of stress and coping. They completed questionnaires, interview, and essays every 6 months. The extent to which compassionate love (CL) giving, CL receiving, and CL towards self were salient in participants’ life was rated using transcripts of their interviews. Results showed that greater CL giving and CL towards self-predicted longer survival, even when controlling for substance use and social support. Only CL giving remained a significant predictor when controlling for adherence. Being compassionate towards others as well as oneself may have survival benefits. Giving appears to be more important than receiving.