A Model of HIV Disclosure: Disclosure and Types of Social Relationships

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess perceptions of HIV positive (+) persons regarding disclosure of their serostatus to others with the goal of developing a model of HIV disclosure that could be used by healthcare providers (HCPs) in HIV prevention.

Data sources: Data were collected through 13 focus groups from 104 HIV+ participants. The groups were formed based on three HIV risk exposure categories—men who have sex with men, high-risk heterosexuals, and substance users.

Conclusions: Data analysis revealed three themes: disclosure of one’s HIV+ serostatus depends on type of social relationships, fear, and stigma, with social relationships being the major theme. A model of HIV disclosure emerged from the data analysis of social relationships. In the model, social relationships were categorized as sexual and nonsexual, with varying degrees of HIV disclosure—depending on the social relationship with the person to whom one did or did not disclose. Results indicated that HIV is still a fearful and stigmatizing disease, and disclosure of HIV status is a complex phenomenon embedded in various types of social relationships.

Implications for practice: Results of this study provide a “Model of HIV Disclosure” that can be utilized by nurse practitioners and other HCPs in clinical practice when providing treatment, counseling, and prevention education for HIV+ clients and for prevention education for HIV negative clients—especially for family, friends, sexual partners, and employers of HIV+ clients.

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Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

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