Non-Disclosure of HIV-Positive Status Contributes to Spread of Disease, Public Health Experts Say in Book
November 25, 2003
HIV-positive individuals' failure to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners -- either intentionally or unintentionally -- is "a significant but underreported factor in the continued spread" of HIV in the United States, some public health experts say in a new book, the New York Times reports. In "Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS," Columbia University professors Drs. Robert Klitzman and Ronald Bayer conducted oral history interviews between 1993 and 1996 with 49 men and 28 women in New York City about their sexual practices. Participants included 60 HIV-positive individuals and a "diverse representation" of gay men, lesbians, heterosexuals, Asians, Latinos, African Americans and whites, the Times reports. Klitzman said that one of the "most disturbing" findings was that more than 30% of the gay men who were interviewed "admitted that, at some point, they lied about their [HIV] status," adding that in reality the percentage is probably even higher. Bayer said, "Many of the people we interviewed said that it mattered a great deal if they thought they might be harmed or rejected because of [HIV] disclosure or if they felt the world was hostile or hospitable to being HIV-positive," adding, "Fear and terror often shaped their decisions."
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.