, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 1101-1108,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Aug 2009

The Association of Stigma with Self-Reported Access to Medical Care and Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence in Persons Living with HIV/AIDS

Abstract

Background

The stigma of HIV-infection may profoundly affect the lives of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). However few studies have examined the association of HIV stigma with multiple components of HIV treatment and care.

Objectives

To estimate the association between HIV stigma and: self-reported access to care, regular source of HIV care, and antiretroviral therapy adherence; and to test whether mental health mediates these associations.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Participants

202 PLHA living in Los Angeles County in 2007.

Measurements

Participants completed an anonymous survey, assessing internalized HIV stigma (28-items, alpha = 0.93), self-reported access to medical care (six items, alpha = 0.75), regular source of HIV care, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence.

Results

One-third of participants reported high levels of stigma; 77% reported poor access to care; 42.5% reported suboptimal ART adherence; and 10.5% reported no regular source of HIV care. In unadjusted analysis, those reporting a high level of stigma were more likely to report poor access to care (OR = 4.97, 95% CI 2.54–9.72), regular source of HIV care (OR = 2.48, 95% CI 1.00–6.19), and ART adherence (OR = 2.45, 95% CI 1.23–4.91). In adjusted analyses, stigma was significantly associated with poor access to care (OR = 4.42, 95% CI 1.88–10.37), but not regular source of HIV care or ART adherence. Mental health mediated the relationship between stigma and ART adherence, but not poor access to care or regular source of HIV care.

Conclusions

The association of stigma with self-reported access to care and adherence suggests that efforts to improve these components of HIV care will require a better understanding of the possible effects of stigma and it′s mediators.