Privacy and Disclosure of HIV in Interpersonal Relationships: A Sourcebook for Researchers and Practitioners

Privacy and Disclosure of HIV in Interpersonal Relationships: A Sourcebook for Researchers and Practitioners

Privacy and Disclosure of HIV in Interpersonal Relationships: A Sourcebook for Researchers and Practitioners

Privacy and Disclosure of HIV in Interpersonal Relationships: A Sourcebook for Researchers and Practitioners

Synopsis

As the HIV epidemic enters its third decade, it remains one of the most pressing health issues of our time. Many aspects of the disease remain under-researched and inadequate attention has been given to the implications for the relationships and daily lives of those affected by HIV. Disclosing an HIV diagnosis remains a decision process fraught with difficulty and despite encouraging medical advances, an HIV diagnosis creates significant anxiety and distress about one's health, self-identity, and close relationships. This book provides an overarching view of existing research on privacy and disclosure while bringing together two significant areas: self-disclosure as a communication process and the social/relational consequences of HIV/AIDS. The unifying framework is communication privacy management and the focus of this volume is on private voluntary relational disclosure as opposed to forced or public disclosure. Utilizing numerous interviews with HIV patients and their families, the authors examine disclosure in a variety of social contexts, including relationships with intimate partners, families, friends, health workers, and coworkers. Of note are the examinations of predictors of willingness to disclose HIV infection, the message features of disclosure, and the consequences of both disclosure and non-disclosure. This volume, with its personal exercises and sources of additional information, offers an invaluable resource for individuals living with HIV and their significant others, as well as for professionals in the fields of health communication, social and health psychology, family therapy, clinical and counseling psychology, relationship research, infectious disease, and social service.

Excerpt

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the most pressing health issues of this century. HIV also has ramifications for the relationships and daily lives of those infected and affected by the disease. One of the most widely recommended AIDS prevention options revolves around whether or not to disclose about one's HIV positive status to others—particularly to potential sex partners. In this volume, we consider the impact of HIV disclosure for AIDS prevention. Relying on a theory of privacy and communication (communication privacy management theory), we explore the impact of HIV disclosure for a wider range of issues including communication, social interactions, and the development and maintenance of personal relationships.

This book focuses on choices to disclose or not disclose an HIV positive diagnosis. These decisions about disclosure and privacy are critical for how people with HIV live and manage their relationships. Because the book pointedly focuses on disclosure of HIV infection, it is at once unique and yet of interest to a wide variety of related fields of study. The focus of this book is on private, voluntary relational disclosure (e.g., “Should I tell you about the diagnosis?”) not on forced or public disclosure (e.g., “Information about my HIV diagnosis was divulged to others by a public health worker”). Disclosure is examined in a variety of social contexts, including in relationships with intimate partners, families, friends, health workers, and coworkers. Of particular interest is examination of decisions to disclose an HIV diagnosis (e.g., reasons for disclosure, stigma, and relational quality), disclosure message features, and consequences of disclosure of HIV infection (e.g., social support, physical health, sexual behavior, self-identity relationships with family and others in one's social network).

This book has been in progress for several years. During that time, many changes have occurred in the HIV epidemic and in the lives of the authors. As we finish writing this book, the 14th International Conference on AIDS concluded in Barcelona, Spain (July 2002), and researchers continue to report studies of existing and new treatments as well as possible vaccines. HIV-related stigma is clearly still a problem, perhaps inhibiting HIV testing. For example, more than three . . .

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