HIV-related stigma, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination: Pathways to physical and mental health-related quality of life among a national cohort of women living with HIV.Prev Med. 2018 02; 107:36-44.PM
Social inequities compromise health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) among women living with HIV (WLWH). Little is known about health impacts of intersecting stigma based on HIV status, race and gender among WLWH or potential mechanisms to promote HR-QoL. We tested pathways from multiple types of stigma (HIV-related, racial, gender) to physical and mental HR-QoL utilizing baseline survey data from a national cohort of WLWH in Canada (2013-2015). Structural equation modeling was conducted using maximum likelihood estimation methods to test the direct effects of HIV-related stigma, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination on HR-QoL and indirect effects via social support and economic insecurity, adjusting for socio-demographic factors. Among 1425 WLWH (median age: 43years [IQR=35-50]), HIV-related stigma and gender discrimination had significant direct effects on mental HR-QoL. Social support mediated the relationship between HIV-related stigma and mental HR-QoL, accounting for 22.7% of the effect. Social support accounted for 41.4% of the effect of gender discrimination on mental HR-QoL. Economic insecurity accounted for 14.3% of the effect of HIV-related stigma, and 42.4% of the effect of racial discrimination, on physical HR-QoL. Fit indices suggest good model fit (χ2=3.319, p=0.069; CFI=0.998; RMSEA=0.042 (90% CI: 0-0.069); SRMR=0.004). Findings reveal complex relationships between intersecting stigma and HR-QoL. Strategies that address intersecting stigma and economic insecurity among WLWH may prevent the harmful impacts of HIV-related stigma and gender discrimination on physical HR-QoL. Increasing social support may mitigate the impacts of stigma on mental health. Findings can inform multi-level interventions to promote health and wellbeing among WLWH.