The role of stigma management in HIV treatment adherence

Lance Rintamaki, Kami Kosenko, Timothy Hogan, Allison M. Scott, Christopher Dobmeier, Erik Tingue, David Peek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Social stigma is linked to improper HIV treatment adherence, but how stigma impairs adherence outcomes is poorly understood. This study included 93 people living with HIV in the United States who participated in focus groups or one-on-one interviews regarding how stigma might affect medication management. Latent content analysis and constant comparative techniques of participant responses that were produced three thematic groupings that described how participants (a) orient to HIV stigma, (b) manage HIV stigma in ways that directly impair treatment adherence, and (c) manage HIV stigma in ways that may indirectly impair adherence. These findings illustrate the need to understand how patients orient to HIV stigma when prescribing medications and the complications that are inherent to such assessments. In addition, these findings provide a simple framework for organizing the different ways in which stigma management strategies may disrupt treatment adherence. Conceptually, these findings also offer a paradigm shift to extent theories on disclosure and concealment, in which only disclosure has been cast as an active process. These findings demonstrate how concealment is far from a passive default, often requiring enormous effort. Ultimately, these findings may guide intervention programs that help to entirely eliminate HIV by promoting optimized counseling and subsequent treatment adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5003
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2 2019


  • Adherence
  • Disclosure
  • HIV
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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