Exploring the process of HIV disclosure amongst HIV positive ex-offenders.
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This study focuses on the process and complexities of disclosure and decision-making amongst HIV-positive ex-offenders. In addition, this study highlights the history and circumstances of HIV infection and how this influences disclosure. The process of disclosure was explored amongst seven HIV positive male ex-offenders who fell in the African racial category. Data was collected through qualitative in-depth interviews and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results revealed that within this target group disclosure initially occurred within prison and thereafter upon release from prison, continues depending on the contextual factors. Because disclosure initially took place within prison, the prison environment was a defining feature during the process of disclosure. Factors that enabled ex-offenders to disclose their HIV status included social support, witnessing of HIV – related deaths amongst other offenders, as well as the challenging nature of the prison environment. Factors that compromised the disclosure process included their access to treatment and a more nutritional diet. Upon release from prison, access to financial and material support and responsibility to significant others were reasons that facilitated the process of disclosure. Overall, stigma was a main barrier that contributed to non - disclosure. These findings highlight that the process of disclosure is a relational factor as it depends largely on the availability and accessibility of significant others. The conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that HIV disclosure is a process that occurs on a continuum whereby there is no clear end-point as ex-offenders weighed up the enabling factors against the barriers before disclosing. Once disclosure had occurred, ex-offenders had to integrate the outcomes and reactions from significant others into their lives. The process of HIV disclosure is also a never – ending process as there are always significant others to disclose to. It is recommended by this study that more research is conducted regarding how prison conditions influence HIVpositive offenders, how HIV-positive ex-offenders can be better re-integrated into the community and how significant others deal with the ex-offenders HIV disclosures.T