HIV disclosure and stigma among women living with HIV in Denmark

Author List
Maria Wessman
Kristina Thorsteinsson
Merete Storgaard
Frederikke F Rönsholt
Isik S Johansen
Gitte Pedersen
Lars N Nielsen
Nina Wies
Terese L Katzenstein
Anne-Mette Lebech


Objective: To identify disclosure, stigma and predictors of non-disclosure among women living with HIV in Denmark. Methods: A questionnaire study of women living with HIV in Denmark was performed. The enrolment period was from February 2013 to March 2014. Logistic regression was used to estimate predictors of non-disclosure. Results: A total of 234 participants were included. The majority (94%) had disclosed their HIV status to at least one person outside their healthcare environment, although 29% had disclosed to fewer than three people. Confidantes were mostly partners (96%), siblings (63%), friends (63%) and children (41%). The primary reason for non-disclosure was a feeling that it did not concern others (55%), although reactions upon disclosure were mainly positive in 53%. Predictors of non-disclosure were being of black or Asian ethnicity. Following their HIV diagnosis, 40% no longer dared to have sex, 40% felt isolated and 23% felt that others were afraid and kept a physical distance. In contrast, after disclosure 75% felt better at taking decisions about life and 50% were in closer contact with family and friends. Conclusion: Almost one-third of participants disclosed their HIV diagnosis to fewer than three people and black or Asian ethnicity predicted non-disclosure. HIV-related stigma regarding sex and contact with others is still highly prevalent; however, reactions to disclosure were mainly positive and associated with secondary positive gains. We strongly urge healthcare professionals to initiate a dialogue regarding stigma and disclosure with women living with HIV with a view to increasing disclosure and minimising stigmatisation in this vulnerable population.

Article Category

HIV cure research

Article Type

Original research

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