Resilience and HIV Treatment Outcomes Among Women Living with HIV in the United States: A Mixed-Methods Analysis

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2020 Aug;34(8):356-366. doi: 10.1089/apc.2019.0309.


Resilience is defined as the ability and process to transform adversity into opportunities for growth and adaptation. Resilience may be especially important for people living with HIV (PLWH), who are susceptible to anxiety and depressive disorders, which are commonly linked to risk behaviors (i.e., alcohol and drug abuse), poor adherence to medical regimens, increased risk of morbidity and mortality, and related stigma and discrimination. To date, few studies have examined the impact of resilience on health-related behaviors and outcomes among PLWH, particularly among minority women living with HIV (WLWH) who are dealing with multiple stressors impacting their health. This study used a convergent parallel mixed-methods design to collect, analyze, and integrate qualitative and quantitative data from a subsample of WLWH enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). The aims of the study were to (1) qualitatively examine the resilience perspectives of 76 marginalized WLWH, and; (2) quantitatively assess the associations of resilience with HIV health outcomes-adherence to antiretroviral therapy and viral suppression-in the context of differing levels of internalized HIV-related stigma and depressive symptoms (n = 420). Findings from this mixed-methods study suggest that resilience is an important resource that can aid WLWH in coping constructively with adversity by capitalizing on intrapersonal traits and states, interpersonal and institutional resources, and spiritual and/or religious practices. Given the complex medical and social needs of marginalized WLWH, intervention strategies should focus on mitigating psychosocial burdens of stigma and depression, in addition to building resilience.

Keywords: HIV; HIV outcomes; mixed methods; resilience; women living with HIV.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Minority Groups
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology