Reasons for disclosure of HIV status by people living with HIV/AIDS and in HIV care in Uganda: an exploratory study

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2010 Oct;24(10):675-81. doi: 10.1089/apc.2010.0062.


Most studies of HIV disclosure in Africa have focused on disclosure to spouses and sexual partners, and particularly among women. Few have examined disclosure to family, friends, and others. Understanding the reasons for disclosure and nondisclosure and how these reasons differ by disclosure target is needed for effective prevention interventions. Using a case study design and content analysis, this study explored whether the reasons for disclosure decisions differ by the nature of the relationship to the disclosure target. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 40 HIV clients in Kampala, with even stratification by gender and age. Most (95%) respondents reported disclosing to someone; among these, 84% disclosed to family members, 63% to friends, 21% to workplace colleagues, and 18% to others. Of the 24 participants who had a spouse, 13 (54%) reported disclosing to a spouse. The most common reasons for disclosure were to receive support (76%), associated with disclosure to family members; relationship ties (76%), associated with disclosure to all target types; explaining change in behavior or appearance (61%), associated with disclosing to family and friends; and HIV prevention (50%), associated with disclosure to spouse/partner and friends. The most common reasons for nondisclosure were: fear of abandonment, particularly among young women disclosing to spouse/partner; inaccessibility to the disclosure target; and not wanting to worry/upset the disclosure target. This exploratory analysis suggests that reasons for disclosure and nondisclosure differ depending on the targets of disclosure, highlighting the need for tailoring interventions for improving disclosure decisions making and outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Family
  • Female
  • Friends
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / therapy
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Spouses
  • Surveys and Questionnaires