HIV Disclosure: HIV-positive status disclosure to sexual partners among individuals receiving HIV care in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

PLoS One. 2019 Feb 15;14(2):e0211967. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211967. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Disclosure of HIV status to sexual partners can help HIV prevention efforts and enable HIV positive people to receive social support, as well as increasing access and adherence to treatment. This study was conducted to determine the rate, processes, outcomes, and correlates of HIV status disclosure to sexual partners among HIV positive individuals.

Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted between September and November 2015 at two HIV outpatient clinics in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Data were collected using an interviewer- administered semi-structured questionnaire. Logistic analysis was used to determine the independent correlates of serostatus disclosure.

Results: Of 742 participants, (371 men and 371 women), 727 (98%) were on antiretroviral therapy and 676 (91.1%) had at least one sexual partner since their HIV diagnosis, of whom 558 (82.5%) had disclosed their HIV status to their most recent sexual partner. Of those who reported having disclosed their status to their most recent sexual partner, 82 (14.7%) had at least one unprotected sexual encounter with the partner, after HIV diagnosis but prior to disclosure. The most commonly reported initial outcome of disclosure was gaining emotional and/or financial support. Some (11.3%) also reported that their disclosure immediately initiated their partner for HIV testing. Negative outcomes to disclosure, such as stigma and discrimination, were more common among females (26.2%) compared to males (12.7%). In the multiple regression analysis, disclosure was associated with greater condom use, greater social support, knowing the partner's HIV status, having a good relationship with the partner, and cohabiting with the partner.

Conclusion: HIV disclosure was common amongst participants, although sometimes delayed, with possible consequences for onward transmission. Fear of negative outcomes, such as verbal abuse and physical violence, were major barriers to disclosure. Efforts to support disclosure have the potential to contribute to HIV control and prevention by encouraging safer sexual practice, initiating partners for HIV testing, and enhancing support for people living with HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • HIV Seropositivity / drug therapy*
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Safe Sex
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Social Stigma
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This study was partly funded by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) [] and Western Sydney Sexual Health Clinic []. Grant was received by Dr N.G. Dessalegn; Grant number: AAS1416503. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.