HIV-stigma, self-compassion, and psychological well-being among gay men living with HIV.

Gay men living with HIV (MLWH) are often adversely affected by stigma related to both their serostatus and their sexual orientation, and the experience of living with HIV appears to increase feelings of internalized homophobia (IH). Little research attention has focused, however, on factors that may buffer the impact of HIV-stigma and IH on well-being among men living with HIV. Self-compassion, which consists of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness, has been associated with resilience against the negative effects of stigma on well-being. We hypothesized that HIV-stigma would be indirectly related to poorer psychological well-being through increased levels of IH. Moreover, we expected that self-compassion would attenuate the negative effects of HIV-stigma on well-being through IH. Our sample consisted of 90 ethnically diverse gay MLWH. Participants completed an online questionnaire that assessed levels of HIV-stigma, IH, self-compassion, depression, anxiety, and positive and negative affect. After controlling for a variety of sociodemographic, health, and social characteristics, results revealed that more HIV-stigma was indirectly related to more depressive symptoms and anxiety through higher IH. Moreover, self-compassion emerged as a moderator of the indirect association of HIV-stigma on higher negative affect through higher IH, such that this indirect effect was significant for those with low self-compassion, but not for those with high self-compassion. Compassion-focused practices should be explored as a means of increasing resilience among gay MLWH. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)