208303 Disclosure-related stigma and risky sexual behavior in HIV+ adults

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kimberly Lewis, MS , Clinical Health Psychology & Behavioral Medicine, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Chwee-Lye Chng, PhD , Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Mark Vosvick, PhD , Psychology Department, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
From the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, HIV-related stigma has fuelled the transmission of HIV. Stigma deters people from getting HIV tested, making them less likely to acknowledge their risk of infection, and discouraging HIV+ individuals from discussing their HIV status with potential partners (Chesney & Smith, 1999). We hypothesized that HIV+ individuals who experienced higher levels of disclosure-related stigma would report higher levels of risky sexual behavior. Participants (N=72) were recruited from AIDS Service Organizations in the DFW Metroplex. Our gender-balanced (48% female) sample was primarily African American (62%) and heterosexual (56%) with an average age of 47.4 (SD=8.3). Participants completed the Disclosure subscale (alpha=.89) of the HIV Stigma Scale (HSS; Berger, Ferrens, & Lashley, 2001; alpha=.96). We felt this subscale was particularly relevant to risky sexual behavior because it addresses sharing ones HIV status with others. Risky sexual behavior was measured using the Risky Sex Scale (RSS; O'Hare, 1999, alpha=.78). We conducted a linear regression analysis to test our model of stigma and risky sexual behavior. Supporting our hypothesis, disclosure-related stigma (=.25, t=2.21, p=.03) along with education (=.25, t=2.16, p=.04) accounted for 16% of the variance in risky sexual behavior (Adjusted R2=.16, F (6, 65) = 3.23, p<.01). Because of disclosure-related HIV stigma, some individuals may hide their HIV status and may negligently expose others to HIV risks. HIV-related stigma is an impediment to HIV prevention and care programs. Public health practitioners should support efforts at minimizing the negative health consequences of HIV-related stigma.

Learning Objectives:
1. At the end of the session, conference participants should be able to discuss the problem of disclosure related stigma in HIV+ adults. 2. At the end of the session, conference participants should be able to describe the relationship between disclosure related stigma and risky sexual behavior. 3. At the end of the session, conference participants should be able to discuss the public health implications of disclosure related stigma on the sexual practices of HIV+ individuals.

Keywords: HIV Interventions, HIV Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a second year Doctoral student in Clinical Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine at the University of North Texas. As a research assistant I have been involved in HIV research with the Center for Psychosocial Health and Research. In this capacity I have recruited diverse populations of LGBT individuals including HIV+ individuals, administered computer-based surveys to participants in our LGBT study, Project Health, and our HIV study, Project Forgive. I also designed the model and conducted data analyses for this study. My previous research has involved collection of health data from participants including blood specimens for cholesterol tests and manual blood pressure, research on Transgender Sexuality and Discrimination, effects of Hurricane Katrina on individuals embedded in the environment, research on the prevention and intervention of domestic Violence in LGBT populations, and developing and implementing community based interventions for at risk youths in rural Louisiana.
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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