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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington: Prayer, Worship May Ease Depression among African-American Women Facing HIV-related Stigma

African-American women living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who express higher levels of religiosity may be better able to cope with the negative effects of HIV-related stigma than those who express lower levels of religiosity, according to a new study from the University of Washington School of Public Health. The study was published Feb. 21 in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Researchers analyzed data from 226 African-American women living with HIV who were receiving treatment services in Chicago and Birmingham, and they found that higher levels of HIV-related stigma were associated with greater depression. The researchers then looked to see if the women’s religiosity, social support or attachment to their ethnic identity could buffer this relationship. Of these three, only religiosity – based on a seven-item survey of their religious beliefs and behaviors  – moderated the relationship between HIV-related stigma and depression.

Specifically, for each one-unit increase in a religiosity score, the association between HIV-related stigma and severity of depressive symptoms was 0.01 units smaller. Results suggest that the protective effects of religiosity, especially prayer and worship attendance, may be leveraged in interventions for this population.

Lead author Dr. Lauren Lipira conducted the analysis as a doctoral student in the School’s Department of Health Services. She is now a data analyst at Portland State University.

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