Understanding AIDS, first released in 1995, was written to provide mental health professionals with a single source of information on the medical, social, and psychological aspects of HIV–AIDS. It was and remains the only authored book covering a broad range of topics concerning the psychology of AIDS that is thoroughly grounded in the empirical literature.

With this extensively revised second edition, author Seth C. Kalichman explains the many significant advances in research on how the virus works and on immune responses to HIV, and he discusses the revolutionary treatments for HIV infection that have increased both span and quality of life for increasingly large numbers of patients living with HIV-positive and AIDS diagnoses. Kalichman also focuses impressive attention on the growth in knowledge about such issues as psychological reactions to HIV–AIDS, coping and adjustment, and psychological treatments. New coverage turns a light onto the slowly growing literature on women, children, and minorities with AIDS and on sexual adjustment after diagnosis.

Almost half of the information in this edition is entirely new or updated. Each of the three main sections of the book have been rewritten and brought up to date. Over 100 new citations to the literature appearing between 1995 and 1998 have been added, as have new chapters on sexual adjustment and on advances in medical treatments (including treatment adherence). Finally, the glossary and all informational resource materials have been completely updated.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Second Edition

Foreword to the First Edition



I. Virology, Epidemiology, and Clinical Manifestations

  1. The HIV–AIDS Pandemic
  2. Clinical Course and Manifestations
  3. Medical Treatments

II. Psychological, Neuropsychological, and Social Sequelae

  1. Psychological Sequelae
  2. Neuropsychological Sequelae
  3. Social Sequelae

III. Sexual, Psychological, and Social Adjustment

  1. Sexual Adjustment
  2. Coping, Adjustment, and Social Support
  3. Counseling and Psychotherapy



  1. Summary of U.S. Epidemiology
  2. Glossary
  3. HIV-Related Resources

Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author

Reviews & Awards

Praise for the First Edition

Few authors are as versatile and have the necessary background to describe everything from clinical course and manifestations of HIV to exhaustive reviews of psychological, neuropsychiatric, and social sequelae as well as psychotherapeutic interventions tailored for HIV clients…The research literature is comprehensively covered and analyzed with a rare objectivity and precision. The reference list itself constitutes a valuable integration of the literature and will be extremely useful to those who wish to pursue a given topic in more depth than an overview can provide.
Judith G. Rabkin, PhD MPH, Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

As social worker, I can attest that the material covered provides a clear and well-referenced guide for understanding and working with individuals dealing with HIV disease. Kalichman addresses the impact of the virus on the functioning and mental status of the client and instructively distinguishes it from the psychosocial consequences of dealing with HIV infection. He adeptly balances the issues associated with a chronic and terminal illness and the unique issues and dynamics of HIV as they affect the individual and his or her social network…From a public health perspective, the issues of transmission, pregnancy, partners, and prevention are responsibly and compassionately addressed.
Beth A. Dillon, MSW, Section Chief, Program Operations, Division of STD/HIV Prevention Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention