Effects of a peer educator program for HIV status disclosure and health system strengthening: Findings from a clinic-based disclosure support program in Mozambique

PLoS One. 2020 May 6;15(5):e0232347. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0232347. eCollection 2020.


Background: In Mozambique, HIV counseling and testing (HCT) rates are low and the cascade (or continuum) of care is poor. Perhaps more importantly, low disclosure rates and low uptake of joint testing are also related to both (1) limitations on access to services and (2) the availability of trained staff. We describe the implementation and impact of a disclosure support implemented by peer educators (PE).

Methods: Ten PEs, previously trained in basic HIV and post-test counseling, completed additional training on providing disclosure support for newly-diagnosed persons living with HIV (PLH).

Results: Of the 6,092 persons who received HCT, 677 (11.1%) tested positive. Any newly-diagnosed PLH who was tested when PEs were present (606 / 677) was approached about participating in the disclosure program; of these, 94.2% of PLH (n = 574) agreed to participate. Of these, at follow-up (between 1 day and 3 months later, depending on client inclination and availability) 91.9% (n = 528) said that they had disclosed their HIV infection, of whom 66.9% (n = 384) were female and 24.1% (n = 144) male. In turn, 92.7% of partners (n = 508) who had received HIV-related exposure information were tested; of these, 78.7% (n = 400) were found to be HIV-positive. Of the latter, 96.3% (n = 385) were then seen by health care providers and referred for further diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusions: Supporting newly-diagnosed PLH is important both for their own health and that of others. For the newly-diagnosed, there are extensive challenges related to understanding the implications of their illness; social support from clinical care teams can be vital in planning and coping. Our study has shown that such support of PLH is also crucial to disclosure, in part via improving awareness of positive health implications for (and from) family, friends and other support networks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Counseling / education*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Social Stigma