Prospective associations between bullying victimisation, internalised stigma, and mental health in South African adolescents living with HIV
Casale, Marisa A.J.
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Background: Adolescents living with HIV may be at elevated risk of psychological problems, which are correlated with negative health outcomes. In cross-sectional research with HIV-affected adolescents, bullying victimisation and internalised HIV stigma have been associated with poorer psychological health. We extended these findings and tested longitudinal associations between bullying victimisation, internalised stigma, and mental health among adolescents living with HIV. We also tested whether relationships between bullying victimisation and psychological symptoms were mediated by internalised stigma. Method: Adolescents living with HIV (n = 1060, 10–19 years, 55% female), who had ever initiated HIV treatment in 53 public health facilities in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, were interviewed and followed up 18 months later (n = 995, 94% retention). Participants completed well-validated measures of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, bullying victimisation, and internalised stigma. Results: After adjusting for baseline mental health and sociodemographic characteristics, baseline internalised stigma prospectively predicted poorer outcomes on all psychological measures.