One major factor in the battle against HIV is disclosure on the part of one who has it. There are over 1 million people in the African country of Ethiopia with the disease. In a study conducted among those undergoing treatment in the country, a rather upsetting trend was identified – that many patients don’t tell anyone when they discover they have HIV.

Only about two thirds can even bring themselves to tell a best friend, while less than one-in-five reveal such information to a sibling and even fewer speak to other relatives. In fact, more than one-in-ten patients did not tell anyone they know about their condition.

It was also revealed that there was a higher rate of nondisclosure among single people, which is especially disturbing as it indicates that such individuals are not disclosing this information to their sexual partner(s), which could result in further unnecessary spread of the disease.

Furthermore, those who are illiterate were also less likely to disclose information about their HIV – many of these are likely to be poorer individuals fearing a higher degree of stigma and discrimination due to their disease.

Researchers came up with the idea of checking disclosure rates when it was noticed that many patients went through added time and expense to get treated some distance from home, rather than going to a local treatment facility – it then became clear that many simply didn’t want to be seen going to the doctor to receive the necessary medication and treatment.

This really seems to be indicative of two things. Firstly, it shows a lack of understanding among HIV patients of how important knowledge about the disease is in preventing its spread. Secondly, it reveals that there is still a terrible stigma associated with HIV in Ethiopia, which people are willing to go to great lengths to avoid – and this is clear to see when they even fear telling loved ones.

Researchers believe that counselors could help remedy the situation by creating a safer environment – one in which HIV patients feel they can speak to those close to them without being concerned about prejudice.