Discrimination as a Key Mediator of the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress and HIV Treatment Adherence Among African American Men

Published in: Journal of Behavioral Medicine, v. 35, no. 1, Feb. 2012, p. 8-18

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2011

by Glenn Wagner, Laura M. Bogart, Frank H. Galvan, Denedria Banks, David J. Klein

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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is relatively common among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and may be associated with antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence. We examined the relationship between PTSD symptom severity and adherence among 214 African American males. Because PLHA may experience discrimination, potentially in the form of traumatic stress (e.g., hate crimes), we also examined whether perceived discrimination (related to race, HIV status, sexual orientation) is an explanatory variable in the relationship between PTSD and adherence. Adherence, monitored electronically over 6 months, was negatively correlated with PTSD total and re-experiencing symptom severity; all 3 discrimination types were positively correlated with PTSD symptoms and negatively correlated with adherence. Each discrimination type separately mediated the relationship between PTSD and adherence; when both PTSD and discrimination were included in the model, discrimination was the sole predictor of adherence. Findings highlight the critical role that discrimination plays in adherence among African American men experiencing posttraumatic stress.

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