AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 309–319 | Cite as

Internalized Stigma Among People Living with HIV-AIDS

  • Rachel S. Lee
  • Arlene Kochman
  • Kathleen J. Sikkema


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.

HIV-AIDS HIV prevention stigma mental health 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel S. Lee
    • 1
  • Arlene Kochman
    • 2
  • Kathleen J. Sikkema
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA)Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of MedicineNew Haven
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Division of Prevention and Community ResearchYale University School of MedicineNew Haven

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