Prospective associations between HIV-related stigma, transmission risk behaviors, and adverse mental health outcomes in men who have sex with men

Ann Behav Med. 2011 Oct;42(2):227-34. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9275-z.


Background: The vast majority of research on HIV-related stigma has been cross sectional, and few studies have examined whether experiencing stigma is associated with sexual risk behaviors.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the prospective relationships between experiencing HIV-related stigma and symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as sexual transmission risk behavior.

Methods: The sample included HIV-infected men who have sex with men (n = 314) who participated in a secondary HIV-prevention study at their primary care site. Participants were assessed at baseline, and then completed follow-up assessments at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months.

Results: Experiencing HIV-related stigma was prospectively associated with symptoms of depression (β = 0.16, p < .001), panic (β = 0.11, p = .01), and generalized anxiety (β = 0.05, p = .05). In addition, perceiving HIV-related stigma was prospectively associated with transmission risk behaviors, including unprotected receptive or insertive anal intercourse with HIV-seronegative or status unknown partners (β = 0.06, p = .047).

Conclusions: Experiencing HIV-related stigma may increase risk for sexual transmission risk behavior and mental health problems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology*