HIV disclosure has been considered key to prevention and privileged as a “healthy” behavior for people living with HIV. Although research has documented potential negative outcomes of disclosure, we know little about its potential of these consequences to disrupt one’s biography, or the intersectional and structural inequities that shape disclosure/nondisclosure and its outcomes. Exploring HIV disclosure as a discrete, measurable event cannot account for the experience of the self in illness, and how disclosure can fundamentally shift everyday reality and social relationships. To fill this gap, I employed the framework of structural intersectionality, and the medical sociology theory of biographical disruption to explore HIV disclosure among a sample of Black gay and bisexual men living with HIV in the Deep South. Between June 2019 and June 2020, I conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 30 Black gay and bisexual men living with HIV in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana metropolitan area. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Disruptions as a result of HIV disclosure included: assaults on self; disturbance to social and familial networks; and socioeconomic impacts. Further, findings illustrate that disruptions were not discrete events, but evolved over time, and that the nature of disruption was constituted by previous traumatic disruptions, social and structural contexts, and men’s social location at the intersections of race, class, sexuality, HIV-status, and geography. I highlight that consequences of HIV disclosure among a sample of Black gay and bisexual men, were shaped by their unique social location and the persistence of intersecting structural inequities. Future research should account for preceding and cumulative experiences, how intersecting inequities constitute disclosure experiences, and that disclosure is a complex process occurring in the context of ongoing social relations.
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