Date of Conferral
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) remains a serious public health issue, and many social factors are involved in virus transmission and treatment. The current conceptualization of how HIV status disclosure and perceived stigma of HIV diagnosis interact is undeveloped. This study was based on social cognitive theory and tested hypothesized positive relations between HIV serostatus disclosure, social support, and self-efficacy. In addition, self-rated HIV stigma was examined as a potential mediating variable. Participants were 109 HIV positive, mostly White gay men recruited via an online bulletin board. They completed the medical outcomes study social support survey, the general self-efficacy scale, the HIV stigma scale, a HIV serostatus disclosure questionnaire, and a demographic questionnaire. Linear regression revealed that social support significantly and positively predicted HIV serotatus disclosure. HIV stigma mediated this relation by lowering the perception of support. Sexual orientation disclosure significantly and positively predicted HIV serostatus disclosure and social support. It is recommended that future research examine the impact of HIV stigma in different groups (racial and sexual minorities, and women). Culturally-sensitive assessments may also be used to measure individual levels of perceived stigma, HIV status disclosure, and social support. Action for social change includes raising general public awareness regarding HIV misconceptions, such as transmission risk; lowering stigma and raising support through public education; and increasing sexual minority status self-identification via outreach in low self-disclosure communities.