August 27, 2012
Among children and adolescents with HIV, little is known about the immunological and virological impact of disclosing their diagnosis. In their cross-sectional study, the authors examined medication hiding as a mediator of the relationship between disclosure of the diagnosis to friends and three medical outcomes: CD4+ absolute count, CD4+ percentage and viral load.
The study participants were 25 individuals ages 11-18 who were perinatally infected with HIV. Participants self-reported diagnosis disclosure and medication hiding; medical markers were derived from blood samples drawn at the same clinic visit.
Bootstrapping analyses showed that disclosure to at least one friend (as opposed to no friends) was associated with less medication hiding; this was associated with higher CD4+ absolute counts and percentages, but not viral load.
Among the 19 participants who had disclosed to at least one friend, those who had disclosed to 11 or more friends (versus one to 10 friends) were less likely to hide taking their medication, which was associated with higher CD4+ absolute counts.
"Findings suggest HIV-positive children and adolescents' diagnosis disclosure to friends corresponds to less medication hiding, ultimately yielding better immune functioning," the authors concluded. "Health care providers should be cognizant of these potential medical benefits associated with disclosure when offering support around disclosure decision-making."