Prevalence and correlates of non-disclosure of maternal HIV status to male partners: a national survey in Kenya

BMC Public Health. 2018 May 30;18(1):671. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5567-6.


Background: Prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programs usually test pregnant women for HIV without involving their partners. Non-disclosure of maternal HIV status to male partners may deter utilization of PMTCT interventions since partners play a pivotal role in decision-making within the home including access to and utilization of health services.

Methods: Mothers attending routine 6-week and 9-month infant immunizations were enrolled at 141 maternal and child health (MCH) clinics across Kenya from June-December 2013. The current analysis was restricted to mothers with known HIV status who had a current partner. Multivariate logistic regression models adjusted for marital status, relationship length and partner attendance at antenatal care (ANC) were used to determine correlates of HIV non-disclosure among HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected mothers, separately, and to evaluate the relationship of non-disclosure with uptake of PMTCT interventions. All analyses accounted for facility-level clustering, RESULTS: Overall, 2522 mothers (86% of total study population) met inclusion criteria, 420 (17%) were HIV-infected. Non-disclosure of HIV results to partners was higher among HIV-infected than HIV-uninfected women (13% versus 3% respectively, p < 0.001). HIV-uninfected mothers were more likely to not disclose their HIV status to male partners if they were unmarried (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 3.79, 95% CI: 1.56-9.19, p = 0.004), had low (≤KSH 5000) income (aOR = 1.85, 95% CI: 1.00-3.14, p = 0.050), experienced intimate partner violence (aOR = 3.65, 95% CI: 1.84-7.21, p < 0.001) and if their partner did not attend ANC (aOR = 4.12, 95% CI: 1.89-8.95, p < 0.001). Among HIV-infected women, non-disclosure to male partners was less likely if women had salaried employment (aOR = 0.42, 95%CI: 0.18-0.96, p = 0.039) and each increasing year of relationship length was associated with decreased likelihood of non-disclosure (aOR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.82-0.98, p = 0.015 for each year increase). HIV-infected women who did not disclose their HIV status to partners were less likely to uptake CD4 testing (aOR = 0.32, 95% CI: 0.15-0.69, p = 0.004), to use antiretrovirals (ARVs) during labor (OR = 0.38, 95% CI 0.15-0.97, p = 0.042), or give their infants ARVs (OR = 0.08, 95% CI 0.02-0.31, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: HIV-infected women were less likely to disclose their status to partners than HIV-uninfected women. Non-disclosure was associated with lower use of PMTCT services. Facilitating maternal disclosure to male partners may enhance PMTCT uptake.

Keywords: Antiretrovirals; HIV; Male partner; Non-disclosure; PMTCT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disclosure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents