Online Program

Alarming levels of Suicidal Behavior and Stigma and its Impact in the Quality of Life of HIV-positive Gay Men and Other Men who have Sex with Men

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Gerardo Jovet-Toledo, MS, School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR
Carlos E. Rodriguez-Diaz, PhD, MPHE, MCHES, School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR
Edda Santiago-Rodriguez, MPH, MA, School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico- Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, PR
Edgardo Ortiz-Sanchez, MPHE, CHES, School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR
Ricardo Vargas-Molina, MA, School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR
HIV+ individuals are at an increased risk for mental health problems, including suicidal behavior. This could be in part due to the experience of stigma. However, limited research has explored the association of different sources of stigma, quality of life (QoL), and suicidal behavior in people living with HIV. We examined data from an ongoing health promotion study being conducted in Puerto Rico. The study, enclosed to HIV+ men who have sex with men (MSM), consists of the participation in a survey interview that includes domains of suicidal behavior, mental health, stigma and QoL. The mean age of the sample (N=151) was 38.8 and, in average, had been living with HIV for a decade. Almost half of the sample (43.0%) reported having a history of suicidal ideation. Of these, 58.5% reported having attempted suicide. While high levels of both HIV felt stigma and gay-related stigma were observed, no association with suicidal behavior was found. Depression, anxiety and low QoL were highly associated with having had suicidal ideation. High rates of stigma were reported among participants and this may have contributed to the absence of association with suicidal behavior. Nonetheless, these findings suggest the need to develop individual and structural interventions that will reduce stigma and its consequences. Development of public policy aiming at reducing stigmatizing practices at a systemic level is also recommended. Future research should focus on the specific mental health needs of HIV+MSM. Protective factors associated with suicidal behavior, such as resiliency and social support should be explored.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define stigma related to HIV status and sexual orientation and the interconnection between them. Explain the impact of stigma and suicidal behavior on the mental health and quality of life of HIV+ MSM. Identify key areas associated to stigma and suicidal behavior among HIV+ MSM.

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working with researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS since I began my education in public health. For the past two years I have been working as a data analyst and research assistant in a research project that involves the assessment of stigma among HIV-positive men who have sex with men. One of my main scientific interest areas has been the impact of stigma on the mental health of people living with HIV.
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.

Back to: 3045.0: HIV/AIDS and Mental Health