Disclosure experience and associated factors among HIV positive men and women clinical service users in Southwest Ethiopia

BMC Public Health. 2008 Feb 29;8:81. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-8-81.


Background: Disclosing HIV test results to one's sexual partner allows the partner to engage in preventive behaviors as well as the access of necessary support for coping with serostatus or illness. It may motivate partners to seek testing or change behavior, and ultimately decrease the transmission of HIV. The present study was undertaken to determine the rate, outcomes and factors associated with HIV positive status disclosure in Southwest Ethiopia among HIV positive service users.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out from January 15, 2007 to March 15, 2007 in Jimma University Specialized Hospital. Data were collected using a pre-tested interviewer-administered structured questionnaire.

Results: A total of 705 people (353 women and 352 men), participated in the study of which 71.6% were taking ART. The vast majority (94.5%) disclosed their result to at least one person and 90.8% disclosed to their current main partner. However, 14.2% of disclosure was delayed and 20.6% did not know their partner's HIV status. Among those who did not disclose, 54% stated their reason as fear of negative reaction from their partner. Among those disclosures however, only 5% reported any negative reaction from the partner. Most (80.3%) reported that their partners reacted supportively to disclosure of HIV status. Disclosure of HIV results to a sexual partner was associated with knowing the partner's HIV status, advanced disease stage, low negative self-image, residing in the same house with partner, and discussion about HIV testing prior to seeking services.

Conclusion: Although the majority of participants disclosed their test results, lack of disclosure by a minority resulted in a limited ability to engage in preventive behaviors and to access support. In addition, a considerable proportion of the participants did not know their partner's HIV status. Programmatic and counseling efforts should focus on mutual disclosure of HIV test results, by encouraging individuals to ask their partner's HIV status in addition to disclosing their own.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis
  • Confidentiality
  • Ethiopia
  • Family
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Seropositivity* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sexual Partners