Table 3

 Representative quotes by theme

ThemeRepresentative quoteAgeEthnicity
Ethnicity: AA, African-American; W, white; H, Hispanic; AS, Asian.
It’s nobody’s business(1) “This is a medical condition that I’ve got and why should I tell everybody?” (Seattle)43W
(2) “…it was nobody’s business but mine.” (Los Angeles)27AA
In denial(3) “Me in denial about the status, me not want nobody to know. Ruin me image.” (Los Angeles)44AA
Low viral load(4) “I get regular blood work done, monitor my viral loads, and things of that sort…I know it isn’t entirely true, but I tend to think that if your viral load is low, and your immune system is strong, that you probably have less of the virus forcing through your body.” (Seattle)40W
(5) “There was no conversation and I ended up fucking him—again, the false sense of security that my viral load is zero. I don’t feel too bad about it.” (Seattle)49AS
Fear of rejection(6) “Some guys I talk to, they’re like, this guy was so hot I wasn’t going to talk about anything because I didn’t want to blow my chance to have sex with him.” (Seattle)41W
(7) “I just…sometimes it don’t always pay to be—to tell people—because a lot of times it just runs them off, you know…?” (Los Angeles)42W
(8) “I feel like you’ve treated me like I should be wrapped in saran warp from head to toe.” (Los Angeles)39W
Just sex(9) “I feel like it wasn’t even important because I don’t really know him and he doesn’t really me. And all it’s about… is just a sexual thing.” (Los Angeles)41AA
(10) “…if I’m never going to see them again and it’s a casual experience, I’m not necessarily interested in going down that road [disclosure]” (Seattle)35W
Drug use(11) “I guess the effect of the crystal was just so exhilarating, I guess, it didn’t even enter my mind to even say anything.” (Los Angeles)34W
(12) “The crystal meth impaired my judgment, and all I could care about was just getting laid, you know.” (Los Angeles)40H
(13) “In the heat of the moment, the drugs, you know, wanting to have sex….that’s it.” […] I mean, you’re—you’re—you’re up there, and you like, hey, I got to have me some sex. And I’m going to do anything to get it.” (Los Angeles)35W
Public place(14) “Total anonymity in a bathhouse or the park, you’re not going, ‘oh, before you put your mouth there you should know [that I’m positive].” (Seattle)40W
(15) “…there were of other people standing around [at the park]…the environment…it just didn’t seem appropriate, I guess.” (Los Angeles)22H
(16) “…a bar, it’s more like a social place, and it, they’re here, they’re to have, supposed to have fun, dance drink whatever, and to bring that up, it would, it would probably kinda, awfully, turn off the other person.” (Los Angeles)47AA
Type of sex
Partner wants to use a condom(17) “No, I didn’t tell him my status, because he wanted to use a condom, so I figured why tell him, if he always want, if he wants to use a condom so why tell him?” (Los Angeles)40AA
No anal sex(18) “I mean I knew I wasn’t going to take off all my clothes and, and have…anal sex with him, so, I was just like you know I kept my mouth shut and, and then do what I have to do, and that was that.” (Los Angeles)27AA
Only receptive anal sex(19) “Being the receptive anal partner, probably less infective, less of a concern.” (Seattle)49AI
Gave oral sex(20) “…it was just um one of those things where, you know, I gave somebody oral sex, and, and…I just didn’t feel it was necessary because of the low risk, or whatever, of HIV.” (Los Angeles)39H
(21) “If I’m only giving him head and we’re kissing, there’s no need to tell him.” (Seattle)38W
Partner asks or discloses first(22) “If they were to ask me straight out, I would tell them straight out.” (Seattle)41W
(23) “[I disclosed] because he asked.” (Seattle)52W
(24) “If they would’ve told me they were HIV then I would’ve felt more comfortable, and told them I was.”39W
(25) Yes, [I told him I was HIV positive] because he told me that he was positive too.”27AA
Feelings for partner(26) “He was a really sweet guy. It was like, OK, this could be a lot of fun. Who knows? This could lead somewhere. I am going to let him know.” (Seattle)51W
(27) “…If you make a bond on an emotional level, I certainly feel more obligated to divulge my status because I might want to continue a relationship with them.” (Seattle)35W
(28) “Well the reason because I wanted him to be in my life and I felt that he had a right to know.” (Los Angeles)45AA
Responsibility(29) “I don’t think it’s fair and I think they should have an option to have sex or not to have sex…don’t want to ruin his life and, you know…” (Los Angeles)45AA
(30) It’s not like something you want to spread around…it’s like killing people.” (Los Angeles)33W
Fear of arrest(31) “There is a legal issue. You have to.” (Seattle)44W
(32) “I heard stories about you can go to jail for like attempted murder and I don’t want to have to go through that. I’m 46 years old and what little time I have left on this earth, I would like to enjoy it outside of a jail.” (Los Angeles)47AA
(33) “Like I said, it is considered murder if you slept with somebody then that person had one time thing with you and he goes and gets and he knows who you are, it is a risk, it’s a felony rap, it’s a murder rap on you, you know?” (Los Angeles)44H
(34) “For one thing, you know that I found out, there are cases of murder or manslaughter…” (Los Angeles)39W