Younger people living with HIV more likely to have a positive self image

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

Results from a survey of people living with HIV in the UK who are aged 15-24 included the optimistic results that younger people might be experiencing less stigma than older HIV positive people.

Irina Lut from the Family Planning Association presented results from two cross-sectional UK Stigma survey of people living with HIV. This analysis compared results between young people aged 15 to 24 (n=300) and adults >18 years old (n=1450). [1]

Although there are still important difficulties from being HIV positive, the younger group were twice as likely to have a positive self image compared to adults. Young people consistently and significantly reported more positive feelings and less negative feelings compared to adults living with HIV, and reported significantly less stigma. See Table 1.

However the study also reported that younger people are more likely to avoid seeking health care when needed. Also, in conclusion: “while young people experienced less discrimination, a poor experience was more likely to become a barrier to future care”.

Table 1: Responses to stigma survey from adults and young people

Survey Q Adults
Young people
p Adj OR
A vs.YP
Treated differently 441
<0.001 0.19
Refused or delayed care 243
<0.001 0.45
Heard negative comments 120
<0.001 0.83
Use of excess barrier protection 202
<0.001 0.73
Avoid seeking care 396
<0.001 1.69


The Stigma survey from 2015 is now published online as an open access paper in the journal AIDS Care. [2]


  1. Lut I et al, Stigma Survey UK: an intergenerational comparison of stigma and discrimination in non-HIV healthcare settings across the UK. 4th Joint BHIVA/BASHH Conference, 17–20 April 2018, Edinburgh. Poster abstract P127. Published in HIV Medicine, 19 (Suppl. 2), s21–s153.
  2. Hibert et al. The people living with HIV stigma survey UK 2015: HIV-related sexual rejection and other experiences of stigma and discrimination among gay and heterosexual men. AIDS Care (2018). DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2018.1479027.

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