, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 473-482
Date: 08 Apr 2006

Impact of HIV-Related Stigma on Health Behaviors and Psychological Adjustment Among HIV-Positive Men and Women

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HIV-related stigmatization remains a potent stressor for HIV-positive people. This study examined the relationships among stigma-related experiences and depression, medication adherence, serostatus disclosure, and sexual risk among 221 HIV-positive men and women. In bivariate analyses that controlled for background characteristics, stigma was associated with depressive symptoms, receiving recent psychiatric care, and greater HIV-related symptoms. Stigma was also associated with poorer adherence and more frequent serostatus disclosure to people other than sexual partners, but showed no association to sexual risk behavior. In a multivariate analysis that controlled for all correlates, depression, poor adherence, and serostatus disclosure remained as independent correlates of stigma-related experiences. Findings confirm that stigma is associated with psychological adjustment and adherence difficulties and is experienced more commonly among people who disclose their HIV status to a broad range of social contacts. Stigma should be addressed in stress management, health promotion, and medication adherence interventions for HIV-positive people.