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Disclosure of HIV Infection: How do women decide to tell?
Health Education Research (2003)
  • R.L. Sowell
  • B.F. Seals
  • Kenneth D. Phillips, University of South Carolina
  • C.H. Julious

This descriptive study explores the phenomenon of disclosure of HIV infection by women. Specifically, we examined women’s level of disclosure to various groups and how these disclosure decisions are made. The sample consisted of 322 HIV-infected women residing in the southern US. Participants were predominantly African-American, single women of reproductive age with yearly incomes less than $10 000. Data were collected at the first interview of a longitudinal study of reproductive decision making. Findings showed that the majority of the women had disclosed to some sex partners, close family and friends, and health care professionals. However, for a group of women, disclosure of HIV infection is a difficult issue supporting the need for health education and counseling. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis and revealed three major categories describing how women make disclosure decisions: full disclosure, criteria for disclosure and emotional disclosure. Quantitative analysis revealed few demographic differences among women in the three disclosure categories. These findings provide insight that can assist those working with HIV-infected women in helping them decide not only to whom they disclose, but how best to disclose.

  • disclosure,
  • HIV infection,
  • illness,
  • women
Publication Date
Citation Information
Sowell, R. L., Seals, B. F., Phillips, K. D., & Julious, C. H. (2003). Disclosure of HIV infection: How do women decide to tell? Health Education Research, 18(1), 32-44.