Stigma reduction among African American women With HIV: UNITY health study

Deepa Rao*, Christopher G. Kemp, David Huh, Paul E. Nevin, Janet Turan, Susan E. Cohn, Jane M. Simoni, Michele Andrasik, Yamile Molina, Michael J. Mugavero, Audrey L. French

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Introduction: African American women encounter disproportionately high rates of HIV-related morbidity and mortality, which is partially mediated through stigma and its effect on HIV treatment adherence. Objective: To assess the effect of the UNITY peer support workshop on HIV-related stigma among African American women living with HIV, compared with a time and attention control group. Methods: African American women living with HIV were randomized to the UNITY workshop or a breast cancer education control group. Interventions took place in HIV clinics in Chicago, IL and Birmingham, AL. Participants self-reported HIV-related stigma and social support at baseline, after workshop, and at 4 follow-up visits over 12 months. Results: Two hundred thirty-nine participants (UNITY n = 124; breast cancer education n = 115) were assessed over 1 year. Both arms experienced decreases in mean stigma scores over time. Our model estimated that allocation to UNITY was not associated with a significant difference in stigma points over time. Post hoc analysis suggested that preceding increases in perceived social support are associated with decreased HIV-related stigma in this population. Conclusions: Although UNITY did not significantly reduce HIV-related stigma in this population, our findings suggest that social support may be key to HIV-related stigma reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


  • Psychosocial
  • Social support
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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