A tale of two cities: Stigma and health outcomes among people with HIV who inject drugs in St. Petersburg, Russia and Kohtla-Järve, Estonia

Sara E. Burke, Sarah K. Calabrese, John F. Dovidio, Olga S. Levina, Anneli Uusküla, Linda M. Niccolai, Katri Abel-Ollo, Robert Heimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


Experiences of stigma are often associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. The present work tested the associations between stigma and health-related outcomes among people with HIV who inject drugs in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia. These two cities share some of the highest rates of HIV outside of sub-Saharan Africa, largely driven by injection drug use, but Estonia has implemented harm reduction services more comprehensively. People who inject drugs were recruited using respondent-driven sampling; those who indicated being HIV-positive were included in the present sample (n=381 in St. Petersburg; n=288 in Kohtla-Järve). Participants reported their health information and completed measures of internalized HIV stigma, anticipated HIV stigma, internalized drug stigma, and anticipated drug stigma. Participants in both locations indicated similarly high levels of all four forms of stigma. However, stigma variables were more strongly associated with health outcomes in Russia than in Estonia. The St. Petersburg results were consistent with prior work linking stigma and health. Lower barriers to care in Kohtla-Järve may help explain why social stigma was not closely tied to negative health outcomes there. Implications for interventions and health policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-161
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Anticipated stigma
  • HIV
  • Injection drug use
  • Internalized stigma
  • Kohtla-Järve, Estonia
  • St. Petersburg, Russia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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