Examination of Mediators and Moderators to Understand How and in What Context Game Changers Increases HIV Prevention Advocacy Among Persons Living With HIV in Uganda

Published in: International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2021). doi: 10.1007/s12529-021-09983-z

by Glenn Wagner, Laura M. Bogart, David J. Klein, Harold D. Green, Andrew Kambugu, Joan Nampiima, Joseph K. Matovu

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Our randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the group-based Game Changers intervention demonstrated effects on the primary goal of increased HIV-protective behaviors among social network members (alters), via the mechanism of increased participant engagement in HIV prevention advocacy with alters. We sought to understand how and in what context the intervention has its effects by examining specific mediators and moderators of the intervention's effect on increased prevention advocacy.


The RCT was conducted with 98 adult PLWH in Uganda. Intervention content targeted internalized HIV stigma, HIV disclosure, positive living behaviors, and self-efficacy for advocacy; these constructs were examined as intervention mediators (at the 5-month follow-up) of advocacy effects reported at the 8-month follow-up. Baseline sample characteristics were explored as moderators.


Internalized HIV stigma and HIV disclosure mediated intervention effects on prevention advocacy, but not antiretroviral adherence or self-efficacy for advocacy. Moderators of the intervention effect included several network characteristics (trust in, support from, stigma from, and connectedness among network members), but not respondent socio-demographics or HIV disease characteristics. The intervention was associated with greater prevention advocacy when trust in, support from, and connectedness among alters were high, and stigma from alters was low.


These findings highlight the importance of helping PLWH cope with self-stigma and gain comfort with disclosure, as well as the potential influence of network support, trustworthiness, connectedness, and stigmatization on engagement in prevention advocacy.

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