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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2018

Theorizing the complexity of HIV disclosure in vulnerable populations: a grounded theory study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
Subash Thapa, Karin Hannes, Anne Buve, Shivani Bhattarai, Catharina Mathei



HIV disclosure is an important step in delivering the right care to people. However, many people with an HIV positive status choose not to disclose. This considerably complicates the delivery of adequate health care.


We conducted a grounded theory study to develop a theoretical model explaining how local contexts impact on HIV disclosure and what the mechanisms are that determine whether people choose to disclose or not. We conducted in-depth interviews among 23 people living with HIV, 8 health workers and 5 family and community members, and 1 community development worker in Achham, Nepal. Data were analysed using constant-comparative method, performing three levels of open, axial, and selective coding.


Our theoretical model illustrates how two dominant systems to control HIV, namely a community self-coping and a public health system, independently or jointly, shape contexts, mechanisms and outcomes for HIV disclosure.


This theoretical model can be used in understanding processes of HIV disclosure in a community where HIV is concentrated in vulnerable populations and is highly stigmatized, and in determining how public health approaches would lead to reduced stigma levels and increased HIV disclosure rates.
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