Young women with HIV and histories of physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood may be vulnerable to difficulties with disclosure to sexual partners. Abuse in childhood is highly prevalent in HIV-positive women, and has been associated with poorer communication, low assertiveness, low self worth, and increased risk for sexual and other risk behaviors that increase the risk of secondary transmission of HIV. HIV disclosure may be an important link between abuse and sexual risk behaviors. Qualitative interviews with 40 HIV-positive young women with childhood physical and/or sexual abuse were conducted; some women had also experienced adult victimization. Results suggest that HIV-positive women with abuse histories use a host of strategies to deal with disclosure of HIV status, including delaying disclosure, assessing hypothetical responses of partners, and determining appropriate stages in a relationship to disclose. Stigma was an important theme related to disclosure. We discuss how these disclosure processes impact sexual behavior and relationships and discuss intervention opportunities based on our findings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases