Internalised HIV-Stigma, Loneliness, Depressive Symptoms and Sleep Quality in People Living With HIV

Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: People living with HIV (PLWH) commonly report sleep disturbances which are associated with long-term health consequences, including disease progression. PLWH also experience internalised stigma as a result of their HIV status, which can be associated with increased loneliness and depression. Little attention focuses on the impact of these factors on sleep. Therefore, we examined whether internalised HIV-stigma was indirectly related to poorer sleep quality through higher levels of loneliness and depressive symptoms.

Design: 181 PLWH from across the United States completed an online survey.

Main Study Measures: Internalised HIV-stigma was assessed using the HIV-Stigma Scale, loneliness was assessed using the UCLA-Loneliness Scale-Short Form, depressive symptoms were assessed with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Index, and Sleep Quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.

Results: Internalised HIV-stigma was indirectly associated with poorer global sleep quality and daytime sleep dysfunction through both loneliness and depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: PLWH who experience HIV-related stigma may experience greater feelings of loneliness, which are related to increased depressive symptoms and poorer sleep quality. Interventions focused on improving sleep in PLWH should focus on multiple factors that influence sleep, including psychosocial factors such as stigma, social isolation and depressive symptoms.