Launched at Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference today, the Disclosure Project is premised upon a website which seeks to assist people living with HIV identify the cause of any fear, apprehension, hesitation or even shame, about disclosing.
Growing everyday as stories of people living with HIV are added, the Disclosure Project — in partnership with ACON, Living Positive Victoria, VAC and TIM (The Institute of Many) — is a living multi-media platform web-based resource enabling individuals to share personal stories of HIV disclosure to help and support other individuals planning to disclose.
Disclosure is most often defined as the action of making new or secret information known; and for people living with HIV, disclosure is a major event which is planned, pre-meditated and performed – often for the rest of their lives. Sometimes the impact of the act of disclosure can be anticipated, other times it is an act of pure improvisation. Often the hope is for a reaction that is generous and understanding, however, far too often the reaction to an HIV disclosure can be devastating.
"Disclosing your HIV status is still a gamble. For some, it can yield negative results ranging from hurtful gossip to the end of your career, as well as physical violence. One of the greatest things we've seen in TIM is real-time peer support for people living with HIV, as they prepare to disclose their status, be that to a new lover, family, or their entire social media network," said Nic Holas, co-founder, TIM. "This new resource carries that same spirit of peer support to a wider community, so that more people living with HIV and our allies can be better equipped to deal with HIV disclosure,”
The Disclosure Project is based upon peer-to-peer based learning. Where someone contemplating disclosing can access a wide range of experiences will help them find the best tools to help their disclosure be a successful one.
"The Disclosure Project uses technology to help break disclosure down into its various parts. It uses real experiences to inform and help individuals through a tricky process," said Brent Allan, Living Positive Victoria CEO. "There is a strong research supporting the importance of disclosure in helping both the individual to take control of their health and identity and helps normalise HIV testing and treatment. Everyone, living with HIV or not, will be inspired by the stories of strength and resilience that are shared on this site.”
Karen Price, Director HIV & Sexual Health, ACON said: “We are very excited to be involved in this project. Through many of our programs for people living with HIV, we understand that disclosure remains an important area of concern. We also see the central role peers can play in developing effective strategies and sharing them, and this is the principle that the Disclosure Project is built on.
“More open discussion about HIV status is important for reducing stigma and discrimination, which is an essential component of both improving the health and wellbeing of people with HIV and ending HIV transmissions.”