Introduction Internalisation of HIV-related stigma may affect a person’s disease management and his\her accessibility to services. However, little is known about HIV-related stigma and its associated factors in patients with HIV. We aimed to examine HIV-related stigma and its associated factors.
Methods We used Mississippi Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) data from 2011 to 2014 (n=793). MMP is a cross-sectional surveillance system designed to assess the behavioural and clinical characteristics of HIV-infected adults at least 18 years of age receiving outpatient care in the United States. Dependent variable was HIV-related stigma. Our independent variables were gender, sexual orientation, race, age, education, poverty level, smoking, binge drinking, drug abuse, length of time diagnosed with HIV, and insurance. T-test, one-way ANOVA, and multiple linear regression were conducted (p<0.05).
Results Overall, 75% of respondents reported at least one internalised HIV-related stigma experience. The average stigma score overall was 2.3 (out of 6), with a standard error of 0.07. Our finding showed that stigma was significantly higher among females (M=2.6, t=2.9, p=0.003), patients aged 18–24 (M=2.9, F=4.6, p=0.003), those with less than high school education (M=2.7, t=2.4, p=0.02), binge drinker (M=2.8, t=2.3, p=0.02), drug abuser (M=2.7, t=2.3, p=0.02 ), those who have been diagnosed with HIV since <5 years ago (M=2.6, F=6.6, p=0.001), and those who had private insurance (M=2.8, F=5.5, p=0.004). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that being female (β=0.52), having less than high school education (β=0.55), drug abusing (β=0.66), and having private insurance (β=0.77) contribute positively to predict experiencing stigma after entering all variables together.
Conclusion The findings indicate that HIV-related stigma is very common among HIV patients, and is significantly associated with gender, education, drug abuse and insurance status, highlighting a need for stigma reduction interventions, with a focus on population at risk.