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01-02-2013 | Uitgave 1/2013

Quality of Life Research 1/2013

Subjective wellbeing and ‘felt’ stigma when living with HIV

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 1/2013
Vicki E. Hutton, RoseAnne Misajon, Francesca E. Collins
Belangrijke opmerkingen
This study has been approved by the Monash University Standing Committee on Ethics in Research Involving Humans (Approval Number CF09/1014-2009000505).



The impact of stigma on subjective wellbeing was explored in adults living with HIV in Australia and the USA. It was hypothesised that this population would report poorer subjective wellbeing than the general population and that ‘felt’ stigma would contribute significantly to reported levels of subjective wellbeing.


A total of 274 participants were recruited through Australian AIDS councils and HIV-specific online support groups. Participants completed a composite questionnaire comprising the personal wellbeing index—adult (PWI-A), the HIV version of the unsupportive social interactions inventory (USII) and demographic and health-related items. The PWI-A total score was used to form a personal wellbeing index, ranging from 0 to 100.


Participants reported mean PWI-A total scores of 54.7, considerably below the normative range of 70–80 for Western populations. There was a strong negative correlation between PWI-A total scores and USII total scores with the experience of high levels of unsupportive social interactions being associated with reduced levels of subjective wellbeing.


Our study suggests that despite antidiscrimination legislation, ‘felt’ stigma in the form of unsupportive social interactions continues to exert a negative impact on subjective wellbeing. Reduced subjective wellbeing may increase the risk of adverse health behaviours, such as medication non-adherence, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviours and non-disclosure of HIV serostatus.

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