STIGMA CONSCIOUSNESS, COPING STRATEGIES AND CD4 COUNTS OF PERSONS WITH HIV/AIDS
The study examined the influence of stigma consciousness (a belief or feeling that one will be negatively stereotyped by others) and coping strategies (social support, information and problem) on the CD4 counts (measure of immune system) of People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Anambra state. 430 PLWHA (men=148 & women=282), age (M=35.73, SD=8.4) years served as participants. Three Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) sites were randomly selected from the three senatorial zones of Anambra state. All PLWHA in the three ART sites’ enrolments were used. Measures of CD4 counts of PLWHA were obtained from ART records. Stigma consciousness was measured using stigma consciousness questionnaire Pinel (1999) while social support scale Turner, Frankel, and Levin (1983), information coping scale (Kalichman et al, 2006), and ways of coping inventory (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980) measured coping strategies. 4-way analysis of variance statistic revealed that stigma consciousness had significant influence on CD4 counts of PLWHA. Social support had significant main effect on CD4 counts of PLWHA. Information coping had significant main effect on CD4 counts of PLWHA. And, problem coping produced significant real effect on CD4 counts of PLWHA. The implication is that psychosocial variables influence immune system of PLWHA. Link between stigma consciousness and CD4 counts of PLWHA is extension of psychoneuroimmunology literature. Outcome of this study will be utilized by PLWHA, psychologists/counselors, healthcare workers, and policy makers. Discussions were based on immunocompetence model of Jemmott and Lock (1984) which holds that psychosocial stressors lower immune system efficiency. Gluhoski (1996) cognitive therapy was recommended for effective psychological intervention measures to reduce negative psychological conditions among PLWHA.