Previous review studies explored factors related to the process of HIV disclosure. However, none of these review studies specifically focused on the effects of stigma on HIV disclosure to sex partners. A comprehensive systematic review of empirical studies on the effects of stigma on HIV disclosure to sex partners was conducted until December 2014. Twenty-seven articles published in English-language journals were selected, and study characteristics and findings were evaluated. Inconsistent findings in the assessment of impacts of stigma on HIV disclosure to sex partners were documented. Three underlying plausible reasons were identified, and these included: (1) different types of stigma may have different effects on HIV disclosure to sex partners; (2) studies used different measurement strategies; and (3) varied personal backgrounds and health factors that can mitigate, facilitate or moderate the effect of stigma on HIV disclosure to sex partners. Studies with precise definition measurements of specific types of stigma used them appropriately in a matching context to provide more consistent research results. This review identifies the need for further investigation into how the HIV disclosure process is shaped by particular types of stigma, types of sex partners and demographic characteristics of people living with HIV/AIDS.
- people living with HIV/AIDS