There are multiple dimensions of HIV-related stigma that can compromise the mental and physical health of people living with HIV. We focused on the dimension of experienced stigma, defined as exposure to acts of discrimination, devaluation, and prejudice, and investigated its relationship with HIV health and psychosocial outcomes.Methods:
We examined associations between experienced stigma in the community and health care settings and psychosocial and health outcomes for people living with HIV (N = 203) receiving care at an urban HIV clinic in the Southeastern United States. We also investigated whether those effects are unique to experienced stigma or are mediated by other dimensions of HIV-related stigma.Results:
Experienced stigma was associated with suboptimal clinical outcomes such as viral nonsuppression, as well as poor affective, cognitive, and mental health outcomes (self-esteem, depressive symptoms, avoidance coping, and blame coping) and interpersonal outcomes such as social support and physician trust. Furthermore, serial mediation models suggested significant indirect effects of experienced stigma through internalized stigma and anticipated stigma from various theoretically expected sources of stigma (eg, community members, friends and family, and health care workers), with varying effects depending on the source.Conclusions:
These findings suggest nuanced mechanisms for the effects of experienced HIV-related stigma, especially in health care settings, and may be used to inform stigma-reduction interventions. Interventions designed to address experienced stigma in health care settings might be more tailored to specific outcomes, such as depression and physician trust, than interventions designed to address experienced stigma in the community.