208870 Outcomes of disclosing HIV+ status to sex partners among young women in the US

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stephanie L. Marhefka, PhD , Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Renee Clarke, BS , Community and Family Health, University of South Florida College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Rasheeta Chandler, PhD, RN, MS , Community and Family Health, University of South Florida College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Background: Non-disclosure to sex partners is common among young women with HIV (YWH) in the U.S., and fear of rejection is a reported reason. Disclosure outcomes are not well studied, but have important intervention implications.

Methods: Seventeen YWH ages 16 to 24 years were recruited from an adolescent HIV clinic, responded to a computerized questionnaire, and completed an open-ended interview. Data collection is ongoing to n = 40.

Results: Participants (n=17; M age = 21.69 years) were primarily Black and non-Hispanic. Thirteen had disclosed their HIV+ status to > 1 sex partner (disclosure to 20 of 49 partners).

Positive emotional outcomes included increased relationship closeness (n = 9) and positive feelings about disclosure (n = 11); one said “…I had to deal with the situation of telling somebody… he leaned over and he kissed me and he said it didn't matter.” All said a disclosure resulted in using condoms.

Although 10 said things “got weird,” only 8 said things “were never as good” with a partner, 6 reported disclosure “did not go well,” and 7 wished they hadn't disclosed. Five said a partner didn't want to have sex after disclosure, and 6 said a partner “told others.” Eight said the experience made them “never want to tell someone again.” One woman said “the guy literally disappeared [after I told him], and it was hard for me.”

Conclusion: Not all YWH experienced negative outcomes of disclosure, although changes in relationship dynamics were common. Clinical, research, and policy implications will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with HIV+ young women disclosing their HIV status to sexual partners.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Risky Behaviors

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have presented numerous other research presentations related to the psychosocial issues of people living with HIV including at conferences for APHA, IAS, IAPAC, APA (Psychology), etc. I have been involved in the clinical care of people living with HIV, as well.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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