Ezer Kang, Claude A Mellins, Woojae Kim, Curtis Dolezal, Christine Kindler, Cheng-Shiun Leu, Elaine J Abrams
AIDS and Behavior (2021)
Perceived HIV stigma and mental health are fluid across the lifespan for people living with perinatally-acquired HIV (PHIV). The process of navigating discredited identities over time in the context of other life demands potentially exerts a toll on the mental health of adolescents and young adults living with PHIV (AYAPHIV). Based on data from a longitudinal study in New York City examining mental health and health risk behaviors among 182 AYAPHIV, we examined if increased perceived HIV stigma predicted mental health, future orientation, HIV-disclosure, and healthcare transition over time (2003–2018). Findings from linear mixed-effects modeling indicated that older age predicted poorer mental health, less future orientation, more HIV-serostatus disclosure, and adult medical services utilization. Perceived stigma was the only significant predictor of mental health and mediated the association between age and mental health—highlighting the importance of addressing stigma across development for AYAPHIV while addressing systems that perpetuate them.