Associations Between Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Tobacco Use Among People Living With HIV: The Mediating Role of Avoidance Coping

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Abstract

Background:

People living with HIV (PLWH) have higher levels of tobacco use compared with the general population, increasing their risk of morbidity and mortality. PLWH also face potential chronic stressors related to the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and other characteristics (eg, race and sexual orientation). These experiences may be associated with harmful health behaviors, such as tobacco use. The purpose of the current study is to explore the psychosocial context of tobacco use in PLWH, examining avoidance coping as a mediator in the relationship between multiple forms of discrimination and tobacco use.

Setting:

Participants included 202 PLWH recruited from an HIV primary care clinic in Birmingham, AL, between 2013 and 2015.

Methods:

Participants responded to parallel items assessing experiences of discrimination related to HIV status, race, and sexual orientation, as well as items assessing avoidance coping. Data on current tobacco use were obtained from participants' clinic records. Mediation models for each form of discrimination (HIV, race and sexual orientation) adjusting for demographic variables and the other forms of discrimination were evaluated.

Results:

The indirect effect of HIV-related discrimination on likelihood of tobacco use through avoidance coping was significant, suggesting that avoidance coping mediates the association between HIV-related discrimination and tobacco use. However, the indirect effects of the other forms of discrimination were not significant.

Conclusions:

Given the disparity in tobacco use in PLWH, behavioral scientists and interventionists should consider including content specific to coping with experiences of discrimination in tobacco prevention and cessation programs for PLWH.

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