Meta-analysis and systematic review of studies on the effectiveness of HIV stigma reduction programs

Soc Sci Med. 2017 Sep:188:30-40. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.06.045. Epub 2017 Jul 1.


Objective: The present study conducted a meta-analysis and systematic review on studies evaluating the effectiveness of stigma reduction programs in improving knowledge and reducing negative attitudes towards people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Results: Meta-analysis (k = 42 studies) found significant and small effect sizes in the improvement of the participants' knowledge of HIV/AIDS from interventions with (Cohen's d = 0.48, 95% CI [0.30, 0.66]) and without control groups (Cohen's d = 0.42, 95% CI [0.28, 0.57]). Significant and small effect sizes were found in the improvement of the participants' attitudes toward PLHIV from interventions with (Cohen's d = 0.39, 95% CI [0.23, 0.55]) and without control groups (Cohen's d = 0.25, 95% CI [0.11, 0.39]). Significant and small effect sizes were sustained at the follow-up assessments. Subgroup analysis showed that number of intervention sessions, intervention settings, and sample type significantly moderated the effect sizes in the meta-analysis. Findings from the systematic review of 35 studies indicated that most of the included studies showed positive results in reducing negative attitudes toward PLHIV and improving HIV-related knowledge. Most of the included studies tended to have low methodological quality.

Conclusion: The present meta-analysis and systematic review indicated that the studies generally found small improvement in HIV-related knowledge and reduction in negative attitudes towards PLHIV among the stigma reduction programs being evaluated. High-quality stigma reduction programs with multidimensional stigma indicators and psychometrically sound outcome measures are highly warranted.

Keywords: Attitudes towards PLHIV; HIV stigma; HIV-related knowledge; Meta-analysis; Narrative synthesis; People living with HIV (PLHIV); Stigma reduction interventions; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation / standards*
  • Social Stigma*