Background: In sub-Saharan Africa, women's disclosure of HIV-positive status to others may affect their use of services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) of HIV and maternal and child health-including antenatal care, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for PMTCT, and skilled birth attendance.
Methods: Using data from the Migori and AIDS Stigma Study conducted in rural Nyanza Province, Kenya, we compared the use of PMTCT and maternal health services for all women by HIV status and disclosure category (n = 390). Among HIV-infected women (n = 145), associations between disclosure of HIV-positive status and the use of services were further examined with bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Results: Women living with HIV who had not disclosed to anyone had the lowest levels of maternity and PMTCT service utilization. For example, only 21% of these women gave birth in a health facility, compared with 35% of HIV-negative women and 49% of HIV-positive women who had disclosed (P < 0.001). Among HIV-positive women, the effect of disclosure to anyone on ARV drug use [odds ratio (OR) = 5.8; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.9 to 17.8] and facility birth (OR = 2.9; 95% CI: 1.4 to 5.7) remained large and significant after adjusting for confounders. Disclosure to a male partner had a particularly strong effect on the use of ARVs for PMTCT (OR = 7.9; 95% CI: 3.7 to 17.1).
Conclusions: HIV-positive status disclosure seems to be a complex yet critical factor for the use of PMTCT and maternal health services in this setting. The design of interventions to promote such disclosure must recognize the impact of HIV-related stigma on disclosure decisions and protect women's rights, autonomy, and safety.