Keepers of the secret: Desires to conceal a family member's HIV-positive status in Namibia, Africa

Rachel A. Smith, Angela J. Niedermyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

When people learn that they have tested positive for HIV, they may share their news with a family member; and this family listener may want them to keep their diagnosis a secret. This study extends privacy management research (e.g., Petronio, 2002) by investigating variables related to family members' desires to keep HIV-status secrets. Two studies, 2 years apart, included adult-respondents (N = 1,358) in northern Namibia, where HIV is prevalent. Two factors predicted potential co-owners' desires to keep a family member's HIV-positive status secret: (a) the sense of an environment inappropriate for disclosure, and (b) a lack of efficacy to oppose it. These findings suggest that many factors translated from disclosers to co-owners and from (primarily) Western studies of disclosure to southern Africa. From this investigation, one might consider the contexts that redistribute power so that confidants may limit discloser's rights to share his or her own information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-472
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Communication
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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