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AIDS Care. 2015;27(4):451-7. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2014.963497. Epub 2014 Oct 8.

HIV disclosure and nondisclosure among migrant women from sub-Saharan Africa living in Switzerland.

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a Psychiatric Liaison Service , Lausanne University Hospital , Lausanne , Switzerland.


No study to date has focused specifically on the reasons for and against disclosure of HIV-positive status among sub-Saharan migrant women. Thirty HIV-positive women from 11 sub-Saharan countries living in French-speaking Switzerland participated in semi-structured individual interviews. The reasons women reported for disclosure or nondisclosure of their HIV serostatus were classified into three categories: social, medical, and ethical. The women identified the stigma associated with HIV as a major social reason for nondisclosure. However, this study identifies new trends related to disclosure for medical and ethical reasons. Being undetectable played an important role in the life of sub-Saharan migrant women, and analysis revealed their medical reasons for both disclosure and nondisclosure. Disclosure to new sexual partners occurred when women had a more positive perception about HIV and when they believed themselves to be in a long-term relationship. Women reported nondisclosure to family members when they did not need help outside the support provided by the medical and social fields. The results on ethical reasons suggested that challenging stigma was a reason for disclosure. Since the women' perceptions on HIV changed when they came to see it as a chronic disease, disclosure occurred in an attempt to normalize life with HIV in their communities in migration and to challenge racism and discrimination. Our findings can help health providers better understand the communication needs of sub-Saharan migrant women with respect to HIV/AIDS and sexuality and offer them adequate disclosure advice that takes into account migration and gender issues.


HIV/AIDS; disclosure; stigma; sub-Saharan migration; women

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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