India has around 2.27 million adults living with HIV/AIDS who face several challenges in the medical management of their disease. Stigma, discrimination and psychosocial issues are prevalent. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of severe stigma and to study the association between this, depression and the quality of life (QOL) of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in Tamil Nadu.
This was a community based cross sectional study carried out in seven districts of Tamil Nadu, India, among 400 PLHA in the year 2009. The following scales were used for stigma, depression and quality of life, Berger scale, Major Depression Inventory (MDI) scale and the WHO BREF scale. Both Stigma and QOL were classified as none, moderate or severe/poor based on the tertile cut off values of the scale scores. Depression was classified as none, mild, moderate and severe. Logistic regression analyses were performed to study the risk factors.
Twenty seven per cent of PLHA had experienced severe forms of stigma. These were severe forms of personalized stigma (28.8%), negative self-image (30.3%), perceived public attitude (18.2%) and disclosure concerns (26%). PLHA experiencing severe depression were 12% and those experiencing poor quality of life were 34%. Poor QOL reported in the physical, psychological, social and environmental domains was 42.5%, 40%, 51.2% and 34% respectively. PLHA who had severe personalized stigma and negative self-image had 3.4 (1.6-7.0) and 2.1 (1.0-4.1) times higher risk of severe depression respectively (p<.001). PLHA who had severe depression had experienced 2.7(1.1-7.7) times significantly poorer QOL.
Severe forms of stigma were equivalently prevalent among all the categories of PLHA. However, PLHA who had experienced severe depression had only developed poor QOL. A high level of social support was associated with a high level of QOL.