Background: Stigma is a social phenomenon known to have a negative impact on the lives of people living with HIV (PLWH). However, defining HIV-related stigma (HRS) is difficult because of the intersection it has with structural inequalities, and cultural differences, discrimination by health care providers that measure stigma among PLWH. HIV/AIDS has been characterized as a traumatic experience and PLWH may experience stigma which can cause negative mental health disorders and experiences, including emotional distress, shame, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation. A systematic review of the evidence on the mental disorders of PLWH is currently lacking. This study aimed to analyze the association between HRS and social support, alcohol use disorders and mental health disorders and experiences (depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation) among PLWH.
Methods: In accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) this study searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of sciences, PsycInfo, SciELO and Cochrane library electronic databases to identify publications between January 1992 and August 2020 that discussed social support, alcohol use disorders, mental health disorders and experiences (i.e., depression and anxiety and suicidal ideation) associated with HRS. Pooled Odds Ratios (ORs) were utilized at a 95% confidence level, and as sampling methods differed between articles pooled estimates used a random effects model.
Results: Twenty-two studies with 9548 participants met the eligibility criteria. No association was observed between HRS and alcohol use disorders. PLWH who had higher levels of social supports were less likely to report HRS. Participants who had been diagnosed with anxiety were 1.89 times more likely to report HRS, while those diagnosed with depression were 1.61 times more. Respondents who reported suicidal ideation also were 1.83 times more likely to report HRS.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis supports that HRS has a detrimental association with anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, but social support protects again HRS in PLWH. Applying interventions which focus on the mental health disorders of PLWH may decrease HRS. Provision of social support by practitioners, combined with mental health treatment and assessments, and designing methods to identify stigma at different stages of illness are warranted.
Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Stigma; Suicidal ideation.
© 2022. The Author(s).