HIV/AIDS stigma and psychological well-being after 40 years of HIV/AIDS: A systematic review and meta-analysis



In June 2021, 40 years have passed since the first cases of HIV infection were detected. Nonetheless, people living with HIV (PLWH) still suffer from intense HIV-related distress and trauma, which is nowadays mostly linked to the still-existing stigmatization of PLWH.


The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to examine the association between HIV/AIDS stigma and psychological well-being among PLWH. We also explored whether this association varies as a function of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics as well as study publication year and stigma measurement.


A structured literature search was performed on Web of Science, Scopus, PsyARTICLES, MedLine, ProQuest, and Google Scholar databases. The inclusion criteria were quantitative, peer-reviewed articles published in English between 1996 and 2020.


After selection, 64 articles were accepted for further analysis (N = 25,294 participants). The random-effects pooled estimate revealed an overall negative and medium-strength association between stigma and well-being (r = −.31, 95% CI [−.35; −.26]). The participants’ age modified this effect with a stronger association for older PLWH. Other sociodemographic and clinical variables as well as publication year and stigma measurement did not explain the variation in association between stigma and well-being across studies.


The present meta-analysis and systematic review not only showed an expected negative relationship between stigma and well-being but also revealed a substantial heterogeneity between studies that suggests a strong role of context of a given study. This finding calls for more advanced theoretical and analytical models to identify protective and vulnerability factors to effectively address them in clinical practice and interventions.


RzeszutekM, Gruszczyńska E, Pięta M, Malinowska P




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population


Abstract/Full paper

Email 1 selected articles

Email 1 selected articles

Error! The email wasn't sent. Please try again.

Your email has been sent!