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Family support for heterosexual partners in HIV-serodiscordant couples.

Foley, Marianne; Skurnick, Joan H.; Kennedy, Cheryl A.; Valentin, Ramona; Louria, Donald B.

Objective: To ascertain the extent of family member support to heterosexual HIV-serodiscordant couples, and to identify associated sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.

Design: Discordant couples enrolled in a cohort study of heterosexual HIV transmission were interviewed with structured questionnaires to obtain sociodemographic data, family member awareness of HIV and perceived support from family members. Clinical characteristics were established by medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests.

Results: Awareness and support of family members were associated with sex of family member and HIV seropositivity, sex, education, and race of the partner. HIV-seropositive partners were more likely to have a sister aware than were HIV-negative partners (P =0.01). More educated HIV-positive partners had fewer aware family members than less educated HIV-positive individuals (P = 0.02). Mothers of HIV-positive women were more often aware than mothers of all other partners (P =0.04). Black HIV-negative partners had fewer aware family members than whites or Hispanics (P =0.02).

Conclusion: This research shows both encouraging and disturbing patterns of family awareness of HIV and support to serodiscordant partners.

(C) Lippincott-Raven Publishers.