Stress, social support, and HIV-status disclosure to family and friends among HIV-positive men and women

J Behav Med. 2003 Aug;26(4):315-32. doi: 10.1023/a:1024252926930.


Patterns of HIV-status disclosure and social support were examined among 331 HIV-positive men and women. Structured interviews assessed HIV-status disclosure to family and friends, perceived stress of disclosure, social support, and depression. Results showed patterns of selective disclosure, where most participants disclosed to some relationship members and not to others. Rates of disclosure were associated with social support. Friends were disclosed to most often and perceived as more supportive than family members, and mothers and sisters were disclosed to more often than fathers and brothers and perceived as more supportive than other family members. Path analyses tested a model of HIV-status disclosure showing that perceived stress of disclosing HIV was associated with disclosure, and disclosures were related to social support. Disclosure and its association to social support and depression varied for different relationships and these differences have implications for mental health and coping interventions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • United States