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      Association between stigma, depression and quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in South India – a community based cross sectional study


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          India has around 2.27 million adults living with HIV/AIDS who face several challenges in the medical management of their disease. Stigma, discrimination and psychosocial issues are prevalent. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of severe stigma and to study the association between this, depression and the quality of life (QOL) of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in Tamil Nadu.


          This was a community based cross sectional study carried out in seven districts of Tamil Nadu, India, among 400 PLHA in the year 2009. The following scales were used for stigma, depression and quality of life, Berger scale, Major Depression Inventory (MDI) scale and the WHO BREF scale. Both Stigma and QOL were classified as none, moderate or severe/poor based on the tertile cut off values of the scale scores. Depression was classified as none, mild, moderate and severe. Logistic regression analyses were performed to study the risk factors.


          Twenty seven per cent of PLHA had experienced severe forms of stigma. These were severe forms of personalized stigma (28.8%), negative self-image (30.3%), perceived public attitude (18.2%) and disclosure concerns (26%). PLHA experiencing severe depression were 12% and those experiencing poor quality of life were 34%. Poor QOL reported in the physical, psychological, social and environmental domains was 42.5%, 40%, 51.2% and 34% respectively. PLHA who had severe personalized stigma and negative self-image had 3.4 (1.6-7.0) and 2.1 (1.0-4.1) times higher risk of severe depression respectively (p < .001). PLHA who had severe depression had experienced 2.7(1.1-7.7) times significantly poorer QOL.


          Severe forms of stigma were equivalently prevalent among all the categories of PLHA. However, PLHA who had experienced severe depression had only developed poor QOL. A high level of social support was associated with a high level of QOL.

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          Internalized stigma, discrimination, and depression among men and women living with HIV/AIDS in Cape Town, South Africa.

          AIDS stigmas interfere with HIV prevention, diagnosis, and treatment and can become internalized by people living with HIV/AIDS. However, the effects of internalized AIDS stigmas have not been investigated in Africa, home to two-thirds of the more than 40 million people living with AIDS in the world. The current study examined the prevalence of discrimination experiences and internalized stigmas among 420 HIV-positive men and 643 HIV-positive women recruited from AIDS services in Cape Town, South Africa. The anonymous surveys found that 40% of persons with HIV/AIDS had experienced discrimination resulting from having HIV infection and one in five had lost a place to stay or a job because of their HIV status. More than one in three participants indicated feeling dirty, ashamed, or guilty because of their HIV status. A hierarchical regression model that included demographic characteristics, health and treatment status, social support, substance use, and internalized stigma significantly predicted cognitive-affective depression. Internalized stigma accounted for 4.8% of the variance in cognitive-affective depression scores over and above the other variables. These results indicate an urgent need for social reform to reduce AIDS stigmas and the design of interventions to assist people living with HIV/AIDS to adjust and adapt to the social conditions of AIDS in South Africa.
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            Impact of HIV-related stigma on health behaviors and psychological adjustment among HIV-positive men and women.

            HIV-related stigmatization remains a potent stressor for HIV-positive people. This study examined the relationships among stigma-related experiences and depression, medication adherence, serostatus disclosure, and sexual risk among 221 HIV-positive men and women. In bivariate analyses that controlled for background characteristics, stigma was associated with depressive symptoms, receiving recent psychiatric care, and greater HIV-related symptoms. Stigma was also associated with poorer adherence and more frequent serostatus disclosure to people other than sexual partners, but showed no association to sexual risk behavior. In a multivariate analysis that controlled for all correlates, depression, poor adherence, and serostatus disclosure remained as independent correlates of stigma-related experiences. Findings confirm that stigma is associated with psychological adjustment and adherence difficulties and is experienced more commonly among people who disclose their HIV status to a broad range of social contacts. Stigma should be addressed in stress management, health promotion, and medication adherence interventions for HIV-positive people.
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              HIV-related stigma: adapting a theoretical framework for use in India.

              Stigma complicates the treatment of HIV worldwide. We examined whether a multi-component framework, initially consisting of enacted, felt normative, and internalized forms of individual stigma experiences, could be used to understand HIV-related stigma in Southern India. In Study 1, qualitative interviews with a convenience sample of 16 people living with HIV revealed instances of all three types of stigma. Experiences of discrimination (enacted stigma) were reported relatively infrequently. Rather, perceptions of high levels of stigma (felt normative stigma) motivated people to avoid disclosing their HIV status. These perceptions often were shaped by stories of discrimination against other HIV-infected individuals, which we adapted as an additional component of our framework (vicarious stigma). Participants also varied in their acceptance of HIV stigma as legitimate (internalized stigma). In Study 2, newly developed measures of the stigma components were administered in a survey to 229 people living with HIV. Findings suggested that enacted and vicarious stigma influenced felt normative stigma; that enacted, felt normative, and internalized stigma were associated with higher levels of depression; and that the associations of depression with felt normative and internalized forms of stigma were mediated by the use of coping strategies designed to avoid disclosure of one's HIV serostatus.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                21 June 2012
                : 12
                : 463
                [1 ]AIDS Prevention and Control Project, Voluntary Health Services, Adyar, Chennai, 600 113, India
                [2 ]Department of Bio-Statistics, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India
                [3 ]USAID, New Delhi, India
                Copyright ©2012 Charles et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 2 November 2011
                : 21 June 2012
                Research Article

                Public health
                Public health


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