HIV-related symptoms have a deleterious effect on quality of life. One determinant of HIV symptom burden among individuals of color may be discrimination. The aim of this study was to explore whether multiple lifetime discrimination events are associated with a greater number of HIV-related symptoms among heterosexual HIV-positive men of color and to examine the influence of anxiety and social support on this relationship. Data for this study were drawn from a cross-sectional survey of 307 heterosexual HIV-positive men recruited from health and social service agencies in New York City (NYC). This study indicated that the number of discrimination events experienced in one’s lifetime was positively associated with the number of HIV-related symptoms experienced in the past month. Moreover, the direct effect of discrimination on HIV symptoms remained significant after anxiety was included as a mediator in the model, and there was a significant indirect effect of discrimination on HIV symptoms through anxiety. Evidence supported a potential moderated mediation effect involving social support: As social support increased, the indirect effect of discrimination on HIV symptoms through anxiety decreased. The results of this study suggest an association between discrimination and HIV-related symptom burden. Furthermore, the relationship between number of major discrimination experiences and HIV symptom burden was partially mediated by anxiety. Future research should consider how lifetime discrimination might be associated with negative health outcomes among HIV-positive individuals of color.
Effects of discrimination on HIV-related symptoms in heterosexual men of color