Depression and stigma in high-risk youth living with HIV: a multi-site study

J Pediatr Health Care. 2012 Jul-Aug;26(4):300-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2011.02.014. Epub 2011 Apr 16.


Introduction: This study explored the relationship between depression, stigma, and risk behaviors in a multi-site study of high-risk youth living with HIV (YLH) in the United States.

Methods: All youth met screening criteria for either problem level substance use, current sexual risk, and/or suboptimal HIV medication adherence. Problem level substance use behavior was assessed with the CRAFFT, a six-item adolescent screener. A single item was used to screen for current sexual risk and for an HIV medication adherence problem. Stigma and depression were measured via standard self-report measures.

Results: Multiple regression analysis revealed that behavioral infection, older age, more problem behaviors, and greater stigma each contributed to the prediction of higher depression scores in YLH. Associations between depression, stigma, and problem behaviors are discussed. More than half of the youth in this study scored at or above the clinical cut-off for depression. Results highlight the need for depression-focused risk reduction interventions that address stigma in YLH.

Discussion: Study outcomes suggest that interventions are needed to address stigma and depression, not only among youth living with HIV, but in the communities in which they live.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • HIV Long-Term Survivors / psychology
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Stigma*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult