The link between HIV stigma with substance use is understudied. We characterized individuals with high HIV stigma and examined whether HIV stigma contributes to substance use among HIV-positive Russians reporting risky alcohol use. We analyzed data from HERMITAGE, a randomized controlled trial of 700 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) with past 6-month risky sex and risky alcohol use in St. Petersburg, Russia (2007-2011). Participants who were female and reported depressive symptoms and lower social support were more likely to endorse high HIV stigma (all p's < 0.001). In adjusted models, high HIV stigma was not significantly associated with the primary outcome unhealthy substance use and was not consistently associated with secondary substance use outcomes. Interventions to enhance social and mental health support for PLWHA, particularly women, may reduce stigma, though such reductions may not correspond to substantial decreases in substance use among this population.
Keywords: HIV; Russia; Stigma; Substance use.