Internalized HIV-Related Stigma and Neurocognitive Functioning among Women Living with HIV

Academic Article


  • The prevalence of HIV-Associated neurocognitive impairment persists despite highly effective antiretroviral therapy (ART). In this study we explore the role of internalized stigma, acceptance of negative societal characterizations, and perceptions about people living with HIV (PLWH) on neurocognitive functioning (executive function, learning, memory, attention/working memory, psychomotor speed, fluency, motor skills) in a national cohort of women living with HIV (WLWH) in the United States. We utilized observational data from a multicenter study of WLWH who are mostly African American living in low-resource settings. Neurocognitive function was measured using an eight-Test battery. A multiple linear regression model was constructed to investigate the relationship between internalized stigma and overall neurocognitive functioning (mean of all neurocognitive domain standardized T-scores), adjusting for age, education, race, previous neuropsychological battery scores, illicit drug use, viral load, and years on ART. Our analysis revealed that internalized HIV-related stigma is significantly associated with worse performance on individual domain tests and overall neurocognitive performance (B = 0.27, t = 2.50, p = 0.01). This suggests HIV-related internalized stigma may be negatively associated with neurocognitive functioning for WLWH. This finding highlights a specific psychosocial factor associated with poor neurocognitive function that may be targeted to better promote the health of PLWH. Future research on the longitudinal relationship between these variables and the effects of other stigma dimensions on poor neurocognitive function would provide further insights into the pathways explaining the relationship between internalized stigma and neurocognition.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 24376853
  • Author List

  • Thompson EC; Muhammad JN; Adimora AA; Chandran A; Cohen MH; Crockett KB; Goparaju L; Henderson E; Kempf MC; Konkle-Parker D
  • Start Page

  • 336
  • End Page

  • 342
  • Volume

  • 36
  • Issue

  • 9