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Does HIV Stigma Predict Social Networks Over Time: A Latent Growth Curve Analysis


Persons living with HIV (PLWH) with socio-economic vulnerabilities are especially vulnerable to HIV stigma and adverse HIV outcomes. Stigma related to HIV may intersect with marginalized socio-economic conditions to negatively affect social networks. HIV stigma may limit the ability of individuals to sustain social relationships. This study examined the potential cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between HIV stigma and the quality and quantity of social networks for PLWH. PLWH (n = 1,082) who were experiencing housing, employment, and medical care-related difficulties were recruited to participate in a one-year navigation and system coordination intervention to improve housing stability and employment. Neither stigma reduction nor social networks were the main components of the intervention. A series of latent growth curves were estimated to assess the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships among internalized and anticipated HIV stigma and social networks. Anticipated HIV stigma predicted social networks both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Internalized HIV stigma predicted social networks cross-sectionally but not longitudinally in this population. These data support the HIV Stigma Framework and suggest that anticipated stigma seems to have a strong association with social networks. As anticipated stigma decreases over time, social network scores increase. Interventions to decrease anticipated HIV stigma as a mechanism of improving social networks warrants further investigation.

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We would like to thank all of the participants of this study and the sites for their continued service to the HIV community.


This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant numbers H89HA00028 and U90HA31449, Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Initiative, Improving Health Outcomes through the Coordination of Supportive Employment & Housing Services, awarded to the City of Kansas City, MO and Boston University, respectively. No percentage of this project was financed with non-governmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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Conceptualization: Joseph S. Lightner, Serena Rajabiun, Howard J. Cabral; Methodology: Joseph S. Lightner, Serena Rajabiun, Howard J. Cabral; Formal analysis and investigation: Joseph S. Lightner, Howard J. Cabral; Writing – original draft preparation: Joseph S. Lightner, Serena Rajabiun, Kazi Priyanka Silmi; Writing – review and editing: Howard J Cabral, Jessica Flaherty, Kazi Priyanka Silmi, John Guidry, Alexa Kresiberg, Ronald A. Brooks, Thomas Hugh Bryne; Funding acquisition: Serena Rajabiun.

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Correspondence to Joseph S. Lightner.

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Lightner, J.S., Cabral, H.J., Flaherty, J. et al. Does HIV Stigma Predict Social Networks Over Time: A Latent Growth Curve Analysis. AIDS Behav 26, 3667–3678 (2022).

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