Experiences and challenges of using community health worker-led mechanism in supporting HIV disclosure among adults living with HIV in heterosexual relationships in the rural Uganda

AIDS Res Ther. 2023 Mar 11;20(1):14. doi: 10.1186/s12981-023-00508-0.


Background: HIV status disclosure among sexual partners is vital in HIV management. Community health workers (CHW) support HIV disclosure among adults living with HIV (ALHIV) in sexual relationships with disclosure difficulties. However, experiences and challenges of using CHW-led disclosure support mechanism were not documented. This study explored experiences and challenges involved in using CHW-led disclosure support mechanism among ALHIV in heterosexual relationships in the rural Uganda.

Methods: This was a phenomenological qualitative study involving in-depth interviews among CHWs and ALHIV with HIV disclosure difficulties to sexual partners in greater Luwero region, Uganda. We conducted 27 interviews among purposively selected CHWs and participants who had participated in the CHW-led disclosure support mechanism. Interviews were conducted until saturation was reached; and analysis was done using inductive and deductive content analysis in Atlas.

Results: All respondents viewed HIV disclosure as an important strategy in HIV management. Provision of adequate counseling and support to those intending to disclose was instrumental for successful disclosure. However, fear of the negative disclosure outcomes was viewed as a barrier to disclosure. The CHWs were viewed as having an added advantage in supporting disclosure as opposed to the routine disclosure counseling. However, HIV disclosure using CHW-led support mechanism would be limited by possible bleach of client's confidentiality. Therefore, respondents thought that appropriate selection of CHWs would improve their trust in the community. Additionally, providing CHWs with adequate training and facilitation during the disclosure support mechanism was viewed to improve their work.

Conclusion: Community health workers were viewed as being more supportive in HIV disclosure among ALHIV with disclosure difficulties to sexual partners compared to routine facility based disclosure counseling. Therefore, near location CHW-led disclosure mechanism was acceptable and useful in supporting HIV disclosure among HIV-affected sexual partners in rural settings.

Keywords: Challenges; Community health workers; Experiences; HIV disclosure; Heterosexual partners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Workers / education
  • Community Health Workers / psychology
  • Disclosure*
  • HIV Infections*
  • Heterosexuality
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Uganda