RATIONALE:HIV serostatus disclosure is a complex challenge for persons living with HIV (PLHIV). Despite its beneficial effects, it can also lead to stigmatization and rejection. The current lack of multi-dimensional measurement tools impede an in-depth understanding of the dynamic of disclosure.OBJECTIVE:To develop and validate complex measures of serostatus disclosure.METHODS:This international community based research study was performed by joint research teams (researchers/community based organizations (CBO)) in five countries (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Mali, Morocco and Romania). A convenience sample of 1500 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in contact with local CBO were recruited in 2011 (300 in each country). Face-to-face interviews were performed using a 125-item questionnaire covering HIV status disclosure to 23 potential disclosure targets and related issues (including personal history with HIV, people's reaction to disclosure, sexuality). A principal component analysis and a hierarchical cluster analysis were performed, in order to identify the main components of HIV disclosure, create measures and classify participants into profiles.RESULTS:Patterns of disclosure were summarized using two main measures: direct and indirect disclosure. Disclosure to sexual partners, whether steady or not, was different from patterns of disclosure to other targets. Among the participants, three profiles emerged - labelled Restricted disclosure, Mainly indirect disclosure and Mainly direct disclosure, respectively representing 61%, 13% and 26% of the total sample. The profiles were associated with different aspects of PLHIV's lives, including self-efficacy, functional limitations and social exclusion. Patterns varied across the five studied countries.CONCLUSION:Results suggest that multi-dimensional constructs should be used to measure disclosure in order to improve understanding of the disclosure process.