Unhealthy alcohol use, highly prevalent in the Russian Federation (Russia), is associated with HIV risk behaviors among people living with HIV (PLWH). HIV stigma contributes to the HIV risk environment in Russia. To examine HIV stigma among Russian PLWH and to explore its association with unhealthy alcohol use, we conducted a longitudinal analysis of 700 PLWH in St. Petersburg, Russia. We assessed the association between alcohol dependence and HIV stigma measured at baseline and 12 months follow-up. Participants with alcohol dependence (n = 446) reported significantly higher HIV stigma scores over time than those without dependence (n = 254) (adjusted mean difference 0.60, 95% CI 0.03-1.17; p = 0.04). In secondary analyses, we examined recent risky alcohol use and did not detect an association with HIV stigma. Alcohol dependence is associated with high HIV stigma among Russian PLWH but the nature of the association is conjectural. HIV prevention efforts in Russia that address alcohol use disorders hold potential to mitigate HIV-related stigma and its possible adverse effects among PLWH.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00483483.
Keywords: Alcohol use disorders; Discrimination; HIV prevention; Key populations; Russia; Stigmatization.