Internalized stigma, social distance, and disclosure of HIV seropositivity in rural Uganda

Ann Behav Med. 2013 Dec;46(3):285-94. doi: 10.1007/s12160-013-9514-6.


Background: HIV is highly stigmatized, compromising both treatment and prevention in resource-limited settings.

Purpose: We sought to study the relationship between internalized HIV-related stigma and serostatus disclosure and to determine the extent to which this association varies with the degree of social distance.

Methods: We fit multivariable Poisson regression models, with cluster-correlated robust estimates of variance, to data from 259 persons with HIV enrolled in an ongoing cohort study in rural Uganda.

Results: Persons with more internalized stigma were less likely to disclose their seropositivity. The magnitude of association increased with social distance such that the largest association was observed for public disclosures and the smallest association was observed for disclosures to sexual partners.

Conclusions: Among persons with HIV in rural Uganda, internalized stigma was negatively associated with serostatus disclosure. The inhibiting effect of stigma was greatest for the most socially distant ties.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Distance*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Uganda / epidemiology