Positive and negative consequences of HIV disclosure among seropositive injection drug users

AIDS Educ Prev. 2004 Oct;16(5):459-75. doi: 10.1521/aeap.16.5.459.48741.


This study examines HIV status disclosure in an ethnically diverse sample of HIV-seropositive injection drug users (IDUs) from New York City and San Francisco. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 158 participants. Analyses revealed a number of negative and positive consequences of disclosing serostatus to sexual partners. Negative consequences included stigma, rejection by sexual partners and others, loss of intimacy, and threats to personal well-being. Positive rewards resulting from disclosure included increased social support and intimacy with partners, reaffirmation of one's sense of self, and the opportunity to share personal experiences and feelings with sexual partners. The role of responsibility in impacting disclosure and nondisclosure revealed varied patterns in terms of how this construct impacts disclosure and resulting behaviors with sexual partners. Some participants used particular strategies, such as getting involved in seroconcordant relationships or minimizing intimacy in relationships, in order to combat potential negative outcomes of disclosure. For others, positive rewards were viewed as important enough to risk negative consequences. Interventions for HIV-positive IDUs are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Disclosure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fear
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk-Taking
  • Safe Sex / statistics & numerical data*
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Support
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*