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Getting Past HIV's Social Roadblocks

Getting Past HIV's Social Roadblocks


The feeling of stigmatization that people living with HIV often experience doesn't exact just a psychological toll; new research suggests it can also lead to measurable negative health outcomes. In a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that individuals who experienced high levels of internalized stigma were four times as likely as those who didn't to report poor access to medical care; they were three times as likely to report suboptimal adherence to anti-HIV medications. "We were surprised to find that in our models, experiencing high levels of internalized HIV stigma was one of the strongest predictors of poor access to medical care, even after controlling for social factors such as gender, race and ethnicity, income, insurance status, and clinical variables such as T-cell count and years since HIV diagnosis," says lead investigator Jennifer Sayles, an assistant professor of medicine at UCLA and the medical director of the Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy.

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