Features of HIV Disclosure
Chapter 3 explored the HIV disclosure decision-making process. We focused on the criteria people use to develop rules to manage their privacy boundaries concerning revealing and concealing the HIV diagnosis. Once someone makes a disclosure about their HIV status, CPM (see chap. 2) argues that a personal privacy boundary becomes a collective boundary as the discloser and the disclosure recipient are linked together. Boundary linkages may result from the verbal and alternative message strategies people use to disclose. This chapter explores how people disclose their HIV seropositive status through an exploration of specific message strategies.
For someone with HIV disclosure can be an ongoing process of linking people into privacy boundaries around their HIV status. The disclosure might only reveal partial aspects of information concerning HIV status or a full disclosure might take many different interactions to become known (Petronio, 2002). Thus, one particular disclosure event may be short or long in duration, while there are also new people who maybe linkedinto this privacy boundary. Because there is a need to talk about HIV also given that it is risky to do so, disclosure often takes into account the nature of the message, how the message is articulated, and the way messages are used.
Accounting for the delicate nature of the disclosure event, those diagnosed with HIV not only use verbal messages, they also use alternative messages to let people know their status. The self-disclosure literature usually focuses on verbal statements such as “I feel, ” “I think” (see also Derlega & Grzelak's, 1979, definition of self-disclosure emphasizing verbal aspects of disclosure, as well as Derlega et al., 1993). In this chapter we focus on the verbal disclosure messages and include alternative message strategies. These other message strategies may be labeled in a variety of ways (e.g., nonverbal, environmental, symbolic, behavioral, indirect, nonvocal); however, we choose the terminology alternative message strategies to adopt the widest and most inclusive approach. Using alternative messages allows the examination of options such as avoiding directly stating the