A systematic review of the impact of HIV-related stigma and serostatus disclosure on retention in care and antiretroviral therapy adherence among women with HIV in the United States/Canada


This systematic review explores the roles of HIV stigma and disclosure of HIV serostatus in antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and retention in care (RIC) among women with HIV (WHIV) in the United States and Canada. We conducted a systematic search of electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Google scholar) to identify peer-reviewed articles published between January 1996 and December 2022. The search yielded 1120 articles after duplicates were removed. Of these, 27 articles met the inclusion criteria. The majority (89%) of the studies were conducted in the United States. The studies included WHIV from diverse racial/ethnic groups, residing in both urban and rural areas. Most of the studies suggested that internalized stigma, perceived community stigma, and fear of disclosure were important barriers to ART adherence and RIC among WHIV. HIV-related stigma experienced within the health care setting was also reported as a factor impacting health care utilization. A few studies identified mental health distress as a potential mechanism accounting for the association and suggested that social support and resilience may buffer the negative effects of stigma and disclosure on ART adherence and RIC among WHIV. Our review indicates that stigma and concerns about disclosure continue to significantly affect HIV health outcomes for WHIV in high-income countries. It underscores the importance of integrated HIV care services and interventions targeting mental health, resilience building, and improved patient-provider relationships for WHIV to enhance ART adherence and RIC. Longitudinal studies and investigations into additional mechanisms are needed to advance understanding and inform women-centered interventions.


Nawfal ES, Gray A, Sheehan DM, IbaƱez GE, Trepka MJ




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Health services
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • Women
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Retention in care
    • Treatment


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