HIV serostatus disclosure among gay and bisexual men in four American cities: general patterns and relation to sexual practices

AIDS Care. 1998 Oct;10(5):599-610. doi: 10.1080/09540129848451.


The present study examined patterns of serostatus disclosure among previously untested HIV-seropositive and HIV-seronegative gay and bisexual men recruited from four American cities (n = 701). Six months after learning their HIV serostatus, 97% of study participants had disclosed their test results to at least one other individual. Consistent with earlier studies, test results were most frequently shared with friends and the respondent's primary partner. HIV serostatus was disclosed less frequently to family members, co-workers, and non-primary sex partners. Compared with HIV-seronegative men, HIV-seropositive men were more likely to have disclosed their status to a health care provider and less likely to have shared this information with family members. Of seropositive men, 11% did not disclose their serostatus to their primary partner and 66% did not disclose to a non-primary sex partner. Of HIV-seropositive men with one or more non-primary partners, 16% of those who did not disclose their serostatus reported inconsistent condom use during anal intercourse with these partners. No significant differences in self-reported sexual practices were observed for HIV-seropositive disclosers versus non-disclosers. Compared with HIV-seronegative men who did not disclose, seronegative men who shared information about their serostatus were more likely to have had receptive anal intercourse with their primary partner (p < 0.05) and to have engaged in mutual masturbation (p < 0.005), receptive oral sex (p < 0.005) and insertive anal intercourse (p < 0.05) with non-primary partners. No significant differences were observed between disclosers and non-disclosers with regard to condom use. Implications of the findings for future research and HIV prevention programmes are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bisexuality*
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Contact Tracing*
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sexual Partners
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Health