207536 Stigma, Discrimination, Psychological Distress, and Health-Related Quality of Life among Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in the United States

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jacob van den Berg , Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Carolyn M. Tucker, PhD , Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Background: Stigma and discrimination have been identified as major barriers to satisfactory health care and quality of life among persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The present study sought to examine the associations between HIV/AIDS-related stigma, experiences of social discrimination (e.g., racism, homophobia, and financial hardship), psychological distress, and health-related quality of life among PLWHA. We hypothesized that experiences of social discrimination and psychological distress would be related positively to HIV/AIDS-related stigma and that health-related quality of life would be related negatively to HIV/AIDS-related stigma.

Methods: Participants were 193 (123 men, 70 women) ethnically, racially, and sexually diverse PLWHA residing in the United States (age ranged from 18 to 74 years; M = 39.80; SD = 12.26; median = 40) recruited through HIV/AIDS Internet listservs and groups, and through snowball sampling techniques. Participants completed an assessment battery through a security protected online survey to assess the variables of interest.

Results: As anticipated, a significant positive relationship existed between HIV/AIDS-related stigma and psychological distress (r = .58, p = .00), as well as between HIV/AIDS-related stigma and experiences of social discrimination (r = .59, p = .00). Also as expected, HIV/AIDS-related stigma showed a significant negative relationship with health-related quality of life (r = -.81, p = .00).

Conclusions: Stigma and discrimination continue to negatively impact PLWHA in the US. Effective interventions designed to help PLWHA cope with the experience of stigma and discrimination should consider addressing how these factors impact the psychological well-being and physical health of PLWHA.

Learning Objectives:
Identify associations between stigma, discrimination, psychological distress, and health-related quality of life among a community sample of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the US

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: The research that I will be presenting at APHA is part of my dissertation on the experiences of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the US. I have extensive training in the area of HIV prevention and treatment and have conducted health-related research with diverse populations (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT, low-income, injection drug users).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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