African American Older Adults Living With HIV: Exploring Stress, Stigma, and Engagement in HIV Care

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Limited information is available about factors that affect care engagement among African American older people living with HIV (OPLWH), despite the fact that this is the racial/ ethnic group most disproportionally living with HIV/ AIDS in the United States. The present mixed methods study examined the experiences of stress, HIV-related stigma, and engagement in care in a sample of 35 African American OPLWH. Quantitative methods measured global stress, HIV-stigma, and engagement in care, while in-depth qualitative interviews captured the lived experiences of HIV care engagement. Engagement in care was moderately correlated with overall stigma (r = – 0.33, p = .05) and perceived stress (r = – 0.42, p = .01). Qualitative interviews revealed that stigma was not the most significant stressor in the elders’ lives, but instead a present and underlying force that was overshadowed by everyday life stressors that affected care engagement. Recommendations include that a retention specialist work alongside health care providers to increase engagement.



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