Acute/early HIV infection is a period of high risk for HIV transmission. Better understanding of behavioral aspects during this period could improve interventions to limit further transmission. Thirty-four participants with acute/early HIV infection from six US cities were assessed with the Mini International Diagnostic Interview, Beck Depression Inventory II, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Brief COPE, and an in-depth interview. Most had a pre-HIV history of alcohol or substance use disorder (85%); a majority (53%) had a history of major depressive or bipolar disorder. However, post-diagnosis coping was predominantly adaptive, with only mild to moderate elevations of anxious or depressive mood. Respondents described challenges managing HIV in tandem with pre-existing substance abuse problems, depression, and anxiety. Integration into medical and community services was associated with adaptive coping. The psychiatric context of acute/early HIV infection may be a precursor to infection, but not necessarily a barrier to intervention to reduce forward transmission of HIV among persons newly infected.