AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1792–1801 | Cite as

Religion, Spirituality, and HIV Clinical Outcomes: A Systematic Review of the Literature

  • B. R. Doolittle
  • A. C. Justice
  • D. A. Fiellin
Substantive Review


This systematic review evaluates the association between religion, spirituality and clinical outcomes in HIV-infected individuals. A systematic literature review was conducted for all English language articles published between 1980 and 2016 in relevant databases. Six hundred fourteen studies were evaluated. 15 met inclusion criteria. Ten (67%) studies reported a positive association between religion or spirituality and a clinical HIV outcome. Two (13%) studies failed to detect such an association; and two (13%) demonstrated a negative association. One study (7%) identified features of religiosity and spirituality that had both negative and positive associations with HIV clinical outcomes. Recognizing the religious or spiritual commitments of patients may serve as an important component of patient care. Further longitudinal studies and interventions might be required to further clarify the potential impact of religion and spirituality on HIV clinical outcomes.


Religion Spirituality HIV CD4 cell count Viral load 


Esta revisión sistemática evalúa la asociación entre religión, espiritualidad y resultados clínicos en individuos infectados por el VIH. Se realizó una revisión sistemática de la literatura para todos los artículos en inglés publicados entre 1980 y 2016 en bases de datos relevantes. Se evaluaron seiscientos catorce estudios. 15 cumplieron los criterios de inclusión. Diez (67%) estudios informaron una asociación positiva entre religión o espiritualidad y un resultado clínico del VIH. Dos (13%) estudios no detectaron tal asociación; dos (13%) demostraron una asociación negativa. Un estudio (7%) identificó características de religiosidad y espiritualidad que tenían asociaciones negativas y positivas con los resultados clínicos del VIH. Reconocer los compromisos religiosos o espirituales de los pacientes puede servir como un componente importante de la atención al paciente. Es posible que se necesiten más estudios e intervenciones longitudinales para aclarar más el posible impacto de la religión y la espiritualidad sobre los resultados clínicos del VIH.



The authors wish to thank Mark Gentry and Janice Glover for their thorough, comprehensive guidance in the literature search.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. R. Doolittle
    • 1
  • A. C. Justice
    • 2
  • D. A. Fiellin
    • 2
  1. 1.Internal Medicine & PediatricsYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Internal MedicineYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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