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Bull World Health Organ. Apr 2004; 82(4): 299–307.
PMCID: PMC2585956

Rates, barriers and outcomes of HIV serostatus disclosure among women in developing countries: implications for prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes.

Abstract

This paper synthesizes the rates, barriers, and outcomes of HIV serostatus disclosure among women in developing countries. We identified 17 studies from peer-reviewed journals and international conference abstracts--15 from sub-Saharan Africa and 2 from south-east Asia--that included information on either the rates, barriers or outcomes of HIV serostatus disclosure among women in developing countries. The rates of disclosure reported in these studies ranged from 16.7% to 86%, with women attending free-standing voluntary HIV testing and counselling clinics more likely to disclose their HIV status to their sexual partners than women who were tested in the context of their antenatal care. Barriers to disclosure identified by the women included fear of accusations of infidelity, abandonment, discrimination and violence. Between 3.5% and 14.6% of women reported experiencing a violent reaction from a partner following disclosure. The low rates of HIV serostatus disclosure reported among women in antenatal settings have several implications for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (pMTCT) programmes as the optimal uptake and adherence to such programmes is difficult for women whose partners are either unaware or not supportive of their participation. This article discusses these implications and offers some strategies for safely increasing the rates of HIV status disclosure among women.

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