A systematic review of multiple studies conducted in African and Asian nations identified various types of interventions that are effective at reducing self-stigma among people living with HIV, aidsmap reports.

Publishing their findings in BMJ Global Health, researchers reviewed 20 studies with a cumulative 9,536 participants, including people with HIV and those who were at high risk for the virus who lived in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. Two thirds of the participants were women.

For the most part, the studies were not centrally focused on interventions meant to reduce self-stigma, rather they reported this factor as an outcome. Half of the studies were randomized controlled trials, and the remainder, including all those that offered antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, were prospective cohort studies.

Seventeen of the studies enrolled HIV-positive participants. The remaining three were studies of female sex workers in India, men who inject drugs in Vietnam and young men who have sex with men in Thailand.

The studies’ participant populations ranged between 18 and 3,295 people. Fourteen studies included data on participants’ age; the median age in these studies was 34 years old.

Generally, the most effective methods of reducing self-stigma were programs that provided ARV treatment along with a community or peer-driven intervention. This could include economic support, stress management services, engagement in community activism or programs that help people with HIV develop their own model for self-stigma reduction.

Various programs that studied the effects of one-on-one cognitive behavioral therapy found they also reduced self-stigma, largely because they improved participants’ social position as well as their image of themselves.

Certain other programs did not appear to affect self-stigma, including those that focused narrowly on affecting behaviors that impact health, HIV testing, sexual risk taking or adherence to ARVs.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study, click here.