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Psychosom Med. 2008 Jun;70(5):531-8. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31817749dc.

Trauma, mental health, distrust, and stigma among HIV-positive persons: implications for effective care.

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Center for Health Policy, Law, and Management, Department of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham NC 27708, USA.


Individuals living with HIV often have complicated histories, including negative experiences such as traumatic events, mental illness, and stigma. As the medical community in the United States adapts to managing HIV as a chronic disease, understanding factors such as these negative experiences that may be associated with poorer adherence to treatment regimens, greater HIV risk behavior, and lower patient quality of life becomes critical to HIV care and prevention. In less wealthy nations, these issues are also critical for addressing quality of life as well as medication adherence in the areas where antiretroviral therapies are being made available. This article presents a review of the literature regarding the following psychosocial factors as they relate to HIV/AIDS in the US and globally: traumatic events; mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; lack of trust in the healthcare system and government; and experiences of stigma among individuals with HIV disease. These factors have been found to be prevalent among individuals with HIV/AIDS, regardless of gender or race/ethnicity. Traumatic events, mental illness, distrust, and stigma have also been linked with poorer adherence to medication regimens and HIV risk behavior.

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