Original Research

Disclosure of HIV status to sexual partners by people living with HIV

Gloria T. Tshweneagae, Victoria M. Oss, Tennyson Mgutshini
Curationis | Vol 38, No 1 | a1174 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v38i1.1174 | © 2015 Gloria T. Tshweneagae, Victoria M. Oss, Tennyson Mgutshini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 2013 | Published: 23 March 2015

About the author(s)

Gloria T. Tshweneagae, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Victoria M. Oss, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Tennyson Mgutshini, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Background: Disclosure of one’s HIV status to a sexual partner can have significant health implications. From a health promotion point of view, disclosure is seen as a cornerstone for the prevention of HIV transmission between partners. Despite its importance as a strategy for controlling the spread of HIV, there are challenges that inhibit voluntary disclosure.

Objectives: In exploring factors associated with disclosure of HIV status, the study had two complementary objectives related to: (1) investigation of participants’ views about HIV-positive status disclosure to sexual partners; and (2) a broader identification of factors that influence disclosure of HIV-positive status.

Method: The study explored factors associated with disclosure of the HIV status of people living with HIV to their sexual partners. Purposive sampling was used to select 13 participants living with HIV who attended a wellness clinic. Primary data were collected via an in-depth interview with each of the participants.

Results: The exploration showed that male participants were notably more reluctant to disclose to their sexual partners for fear of rejection; and secrecy was commonly reported around sexual matters. Female participants (who were in the majority) were relatively more willing to disclose their HIV status to their sexual partners. Despite the complexity of disclosure, all participants understood the importance of disclosure to their sexual partners.

Conclusion: There is a need for HIV prevention strategies to focus on men in particular, so as to strengthen disclosure counselling services provided to people living with HIV and to advocate strongly for partner testing.


Disclosure; HIV status; People living with HIV; Sexual partners.


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