HIV status disclosure to sex partners potentially reduces the risk of sexually transmitting HIV. However, there is limited information on the associations between HIV status disclosure in types of sexual partnerships and ensuing sexual practices.
We examined HIV status disclosure to sex partners among 205 men and women living with HIV and receiving diagnostic and treatment services for a co-occurring sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Cape Town, South Africa. Participants completed partner-by-partner sexual behavior interviews and provided permission to extract recurrent STI clinic visits over the subsequent 12 months.
Three groups were formed on the basis of HIV status disclosure to sex partners: (1) 22% reported only HIV same-status partners, (2) 26% had HIV-negative or unknown HIV status (HIV different status) sex partners to whom they had disclosed their HIV status, and (3) 52% had at least one HIV different-status partner to whom they had not disclosed. There were no associations between HIV status disclosure and demographic characteristics, sexual practices, or recurrent STI clinic visits. Undisclosed HIV status to at least one HIV different-status sex partner was associated with greater alcohol use and less likelihood of receiving antiretroviral therapy; participants who were least likely to disclose their HIV status to partners drank more alcohol and were less likely to be taking antiretroviral therapy.
High prevalence of partner nondisclosure and lack of significant correlates to HIV status disclosure indicate a need for further research with an eye toward identifying disclosure processes and mechanisms that may ultimately lead to effective interventions.