Are psychological consequences of stigma enduring or transitory? A longitudinal study of HIV stigma and distress among Asians and Pacific Islanders living with HIV illness

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2006 Oct;20(10):712-23. doi: 10.1089/apc.2006.20.712.


Cross-sectional findings have shed considerable light on the relationships between illness stigma and psychological outcomes among persons living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. However, no studies have examined the possible long-term consequences of illness stigma on mental health among Asians and Pacific Islanders living with HIV/AIDS, a group particularly vulnerable to HIV stigma due to ingrained sociocultural norms. This 2-year longitudinal study examined the relationship between five HIV-stigma factors (social rejection, negative self-worth, perceived interpersonal insecurity, financial insecurity, discretionary disclosure) and changes in psychological distress dimensions (self-esteem, hopelessness, dread, confused thinking, sadness, anxiety) among a convenience sample of 44 HIV-seropositive Asians and Pacific Islanders in New York City from 2002 to 2004. Undocumented Asians independently endorsed higher levels of perceived interpersonal insecurity and lower levels of self-esteem than documented participants at both baseline and 2-year follow-up. Results from hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that baseline social rejection and perceived interpersonal insecurity were significantly associated with changes in self-esteem at 2-year follow-up, controlling for baseline self-esteem and physical symptoms at follow-up. An interaction effect between baseline financial insecurity and discretionary disclosure was significantly associated with dread at 2-year follow-up. Findings highlight the importance of stigma reduction interventions that: (1) recognize multiple layers of stigma based sexual orientation, gender, and immigration status; and (2) address both individual and structural constraints that perpetuate HIV-stigma among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Asian / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / physiopathology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / psychology*
  • Pacific Islands / ethnology
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Stereotyping*
  • Time Factors