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