, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 309-319

Internalized Stigma Among People Living with HIV-AIDS

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HIV is recognized as a highly stigmatized disease; however, there has been a lack of research on the internalization of this stigma by seropositive people. This study examined internalized stigma among HIV-positive men and women (N = 268) in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, and New York City. The majority of the sample experienced internalized stigma related to their HIV status. Individuals who experienced high internalized HIV stigma (IHS) had been diagnosed with HIV more recently, their families were less accepting of their illness, they were less likely to ever have attended an HIV support group, and they knew fewer people with HIV. Individuals with high IHS also worried more about spreading their infection to others. Heterosexuals and participants from Wisconsin experienced higher levels of IHS. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that IHS contributed significantly to levels of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness after controlling for the effects of key behavioral and psychosocial variables.