[HIV disclosure in polygamous settings in Senegal]

SAHARA J. 2013 Jul:10 Suppl 1:S28-36. doi: 10.1080/02664763.2012.755322.
[Article in French]


In Senegal, where HIV prevalence is less than 1% and stigma remains important, 40% of marriages are polygamic. The purpose of this article is to describe and analyze the motivations, benefits and constraints related to HIV disclosure, and to explore specific situations related to polygamy. Data were collected through qualitative research based on in-depth repeated interviews on the experience of antiretroviral therapy and its social effects, conducted over a period of 10 years with people on antiretroviral treatment and their caregivers. Health professionals encourage people to disclose their HIV status, especially in certain circumstances such as preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Nevertheless they are aware of the social risks for some patients, particularly women. Some health workers insist on disclosure, while others do not interfere with women who do not disclose to their partner, while highlighting their ethical dilemma. Interviews trace the changing attitudes of caregivers regarding disclosure. The majority of married women begin by sharing their HIV status with their mother, waiting for her to confirm that the contamination is not due to immoral behavior and to participate in implementing a strategy to maintain secrecy. In polygamous households, women try to disclose to their partner, keeping the secret beyond the couple. Some women fear disclosure by their husbands to co-spouses, whose attitudes can be very diverse: some stories relate collective rejection from the household; sometimes disclosure is made in a progressive way following the hierarchy of positions of each person in the household; another person reported the solidarity shown by her co-spouses who kept her HIV status a secret outside the household. The article shows the diversity of situations and their dynamics regarding both disclosure practices and their social effects.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis
  • Adult
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Confidentiality / ethics
  • Counseling*
  • Disease Notification
  • Family Relations*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / ethics
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / psychology
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Senegal
  • Social Stigma
  • Spouses
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Young Adult