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.