Women’s HIV disclosure to immediate family and friends

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Comparative study, African Americans, HIV Seropositivity, epidemiology, retrospective studies, self disclosure, sexual partners, social support, time factors, truth disclosure, women's health


Previous researchers have documented rates of HIV disclosure to family at discrete time periods, yet none have taken a dynamic approach to this phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to take the next step and provide a retrospective comparison of rates of women's HIV disclosure to family and friends over a 15-year time span. Of particular interest are the possible influences of social network and relationship characteristics on the time-to-disclosure of serostatus. Time-to-disclosure was analyzed from data provided by 125 HIV-positive women. Participants were primarily married or dating (42%), unemployed (79.2%), African American (68%) women with a high school diploma or less (54.4%). Length of time since diagnosis ranged from 1 month to over 19 years (M=7.1 years). Results pointed to statistically significant differences in time-to-disclosure between family, friends, and sexual partners. Additionally, females and persons with whom the participant had more frequent contact were more likely to be disclosed to, regardless of the type of relationship. The results of this study underscore possible challenges with existing studies which have employed point prevalence designs, and point to new methods which could be helpful in family research.