A person’s socioeconomic status may especially affect the progress of antiretroviral treatment during initial therapy for HIV-1 infection, suggests a recent study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Since past research has found that stress and emotional distress are related to a decline in immune system cells that fight HIV, researchers sought to examine how people from lower socioeconomic positions—who are often plagued by social and emotional stress—would respond to antiretroviral treatment compared with people from higher socioeconomic positions.

The study authors used education level as an indication of socioeconomic status, and found that people with lower levels of education experienced regimen failure earlier than participants who’d graduated from college or graduate level programs.