HIV/AIDS-related stigma, immediate families, and proactive coping processes among a clinical sample of people living with HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Abstract [from journal]

People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) engage in proactive coping behaviors to minimize the risk of interpersonal stigma. This study explores proactive coping processes in navigating HIV/AIDS-related stigma within immediate families. Data for this study come from 19 one-on-one, qualitative interviews with a diverse, clinical sample of PLWHA in Philadelphia, PA. Thematic analysis indicated that participants continue to experience enacted, anticipated, and internalized forms of HIV/AIDS-related stigma. Participants discussed status concealment and selective disclosure as proactive coping resulting from anticipated stigma and physical distancing as proactive coping motivated by internalized HIV/AIDS-related stigma. Study findings demonstrate how living with a stigmatized condition can affect PLWHA social interactions with close networks like immediate families, specifically in eliciting stigma-avoidant behaviors. Anti-stigma efforts that educate immediate families to overcome stigmatizing attitudes and provide HIV-positive family members with high-quality social support should be coupled with efforts that target health-promotive self-management strategies for PLWHA.