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Reasons for and against disclosure of sexual behavior to medical providers in men who have sex with men

1 January 2016


Men who have sex with men (MSM) experience significant discrimination within American society. As a result of discrimination, MSM are at elevated risk for a number of health problems, such as substance use. MSM do not always disclose sexual identity/behavior to health care providers. Non-disclosure to medical providers can negatively impact health for MSM, such as elevated risk for contracting HIV. Reasons for non-disclosure include fear of provider rejection and perceived provider discomfort with discussing sexuality. The purpose of the present study is to examine factors that influence disclosure to medical providers. Eighty-seven participants were recruited through social media and LGBT-friendly organizations. These participants completed a quasi-experimental study of factors that influence disclosure/non-disclosure. These participants endorsed disclosing to primary care physicians and not disclosing to dentists most frequently. In addition, participants who disclose to providers in general endorsed more reasons to disclose than not to disclose. However, participants who did not disclose in general did not report more reasons to not disclose than to disclose. Across different types of providers, the majority of participants indicated they disclosed due to perceived need for the provider to know sexual orientation/same-sex behavior. These findings provide insight into multiple factors that influence disclosure and non-disclosure to different types of health care providers.


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