High perceived social standing is associated with better health in HIV-infected Ugandan adults on highly active antiretroviral therapy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Behavioral Medicine








Health-disparities; HIV/AIDS; Perceived social standing; Subjective social status; Uganda


© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Perceived social standing (PSS) was evaluated as a determinant of differences in health outcomes among Ugandan HIV-infected adults from Kampala using cross-sectional study design. PSS was defined using the MacArthur scale of subjective social status translated and adapted for the study setting. Socio-demographic and psychosocial correlates of PSS ranking at enrollment were determined using linear regression models. High versus low PSS was defined based on the median PSS score and evaluated as a determinant of body mass index, hemoglobin, quality of life (QOL) and frailty-related phenotype via linear regression. A log-binomial regression model estimated the relative-risk of good, very good or excellent versus fair or poor self-rated health (SRH) in relation to PSS. Older age, increasing social support and material wealth were correlated with high PSS ranking, whereas female sex, experience of multiple stigmas and multiple depressive symptoms were correlated with low PSS ranking. High PSS participants were on average 1.1 kg/m2 heavier, had 4.7 % lower frailty scores and 3.6 % higher QOL scores compared to low PSS patients (all p < 0.05); they were also more likely to self-classify as high SRH (RR 1.4, 95 % confidence interval 1.1, 1.7) but had comparable hemoglobin levels (p = 0.634). Low PSS correlated with poor physical and psychosocial wellbeing in HIV-positive Ugandan adults. The assessment of PSS as part of clinical management, combined with efforts to reduce stigma and improve social support, may identify and possibly reduce PSS-associated health inequality in Ugandan adults with HIV.