Article

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 473-482

First online:

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

  • Peter A. VanableAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse UniversityDepartment of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, 430 Huntington Hall, Syracuse University Email author 
  • , Michael P. CareyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University
  • , Donald C. BlairAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • , Rae A. LittlewoodAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University

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.

KEY WORDS:

Stigma HIV sexual behavior adherence depression disclosure