The Amagugu intervention for disclosure of maternal HIV to uninfected primary school-aged children in South Africa: a randomised controlled trial

Lancet HIV. 2017 Dec;4(12):e566-e576. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(17)30133-9. Epub 2017 Aug 23.


Background: Increasing populations of children who are HIV-exposed but uninfected will face the challenge of disclosure of parental HIV infection status. We aimed to test the efficacy of an intervention to increase maternal HIV-disclosure to primary school-aged HIV-uninfected children.

Methods: This randomised controlled trial was done at the Africa Health Research Institute in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Women who had tested HIV positive at least 6 months prior, had initiated HIV treatment or been enrolled in pretreatment HIV care, and had an HIV-uninfected child (aged 6-10 years) were randomly allocated to either the Amagugu intervention or enhanced standard of care, using a computerised algorithm based on simple randomisation and equal probabilities of being assigned to each group. Lay counsellors delivered the Amagugu intervention, which included six home-based counselling sessions of 1-2 h and materials and activities to support HIV disclosure and parent-led health promotion. The enhanced standard of care included one clinic-based counselling session. Outcome measures at 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months post baseline were done by follow-up assessors who were masked to participants' group and counsellor allocation. The primary outcome was maternal HIV disclosure (full [using the word HIV], partial [using the word virus], or none) at 9 months post baseline. We did the analysis in the intention-to-treat population. This study is registered with (NCT01922882).

Findings: Between July 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2014, we randomly assigned 464 participants to the Amagugu intervention (n=235) or enhanced standard of care (n=229). 428 (92%) participants completed the 9 month assessment by Sept 3, 2015. Disclosure at any level was more common in the Amagugu intervention group (n=204 [87%]) than in the enhanced standard-of-care group (n=128 [56%]; adjusted odds ratio 9·88, 95% CI 5·55-17·57; p<0·0001). Full disclosure was also more common in the Amagugu intervention group (n=150 [64%]) than in the enhanced standard-of-care group (n=98 [43%]; 4·13, 2·80-6·11; p<0·0001). Treatment-unrelated adverse effects were reported for 17 participants in the Amagugu intervention group versus six in the enhanced standard-of-care group; adverse effects included domestic violence (five [2%] in the Amagugu intervention group vs one [<1%] in the enhanced standard-of-care group), sexual assault (four [2%] vs one [<1%]), participant illness or death (four [2%] vs four [2%]), and family member illness or death (four [2%] vs none). No treatment-related deaths occurred.

Interpretation: The lay-counsellor-driven Amagugu intervention to aid parental disclosure has potential for wide-scale implementation after further effectiveness research and could be adapted to other target populations and other diseases. Further follow-up and effectiveness research is required.

Funding: National Institutes of Health.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Rural Population
  • South Africa
  • Standard of Care
  • Truth Disclosure

Associated data