HIV Stigma and Coping in Romania
In an era of medical advances that turned HIV into a chronic disease, stigma remains a challenge for people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Romania, discouraging them to be more socially active. The aim of the study is to identify factors associated with stigma, understanding the coping strategies PLHIV use to adapt to stigma.
A cross-sectional survey using a self-reported questionnaire was carried out between November 2014 and March 2015 among 252 adult PLHIV aware of their status for at least 6 months. A global score from HIV Stigma Scale (with 40 items, scores: 40-160) represented the dependent variable. Validated measures of quality of life (alpha= .934), coping (alpha= .843) resilience (alpha= .943) and depression (alpha= .946) were tested for association with HIV Stigma Scale (alpha=.943), Independent variables were subscales from the above mentioned scales. A linear multivariate regression was performed (adjusted r square of the final model was: .49) to identify factors associated with HIV stigma (mean 109.57, min. 57, max. 154).
The most important predictors of stigma are those with a negative association: factor “social resources” from Resilience Scale for Adults (ß CI95%: -.374[-1.532 - -.515], p<.000), the domain “social relationships” from WHOQOL-HIV BREF (ß CI95%: -.306[-2.823 -.761], p<.001), followed by those with a positive association, respectively three factors from the Brief COPE Scale: self-blame (ß CI95%: .198[.795 3.574], p<.002), use of instrumental support (ß CI95%: .196[.740 4.160], p<.005) and religion (ß CI95%: .181[.451 3.357], p<.011).
Professionals need to better tackle the negative consequences of HIV stigma by enhancing personal development of the person which can create the premises for building social resources and relationships, but also supporting PLHIV to develop functional, adapted coping strategies and not only internalise the public blame.