Research Article: HIV serostatus disclosure among people living with HIV/AIDS in Mwanza, Tanzania

Date Published: January 22, 2014

Publisher: BioMed Central

Author(s): Gladys Yonah, Francis Fredrick, Germana Leyna.


Disclosing HIV serostatus is important for HIV prevention and maintenance of health for people living with HIV their spouses and the community, it plays a role in the social relation which is critical in reducing HIV transmission. The process may have positive and negative effects to the HIV infected people who disclose their status. The present study was undertaken to describe HIV serostatus disclosure among HIV infected people attending care and treatment clinic at Sekou-Toure hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania.

A cross-sectional study was carried out on 270 HIV infected adults attending Care and Treatment Clinic (CTC) at Sekou-Toure hospital between September and October, 2010. A Swahili questionnaire was used to obtain demographic and HIV disclosure information.

Hundred and ninety five (72.5%) of all recruited participants were females, 88.1% (238/270) were aged above 30 years and 44.1% (119/270) were married. The prevalence of serostatus disclosure was 93.3% (252/270) with participants aged above 30 years having significantly higher proportion of serostatus disclosure compared to those aged below 30 years (94.5% vs. 84.4%, p < 0.05). Among the participants who disclosed their status, 69.3% reported closeness to the disclosed person as the reason for disclosure while 25.8% (65/252) disclosed because they needed help. Two hundred (79.4%) reported to have received emotional support following disclosure while 25.8% and 29.7% received financial support and freedom to use their anti-retroviral drugs around the person they disclosed their status respectively. Thirty four participants reported to have been discriminated following disclosure and 12 participants reported to have been divorced. Rate of disclosure of HIV serostatus was noted to be high in this study. Delayed disclosure was also noted in small proportion of participants. Negative outcomes following disclosure of serostatus were reported by participants. Efforts need to be increased to promote disclosure of HIV serostatus in Tanzania through health education and awareness for both HIV infected individuals and the community.

Partial Text

HIV/AIDS is still a major burden to the health system in Tanzania as it is for other Sub-Sahara African countries. The current estimate for HIV prevalence in Tanzania is 5.6%
[1] it is about 1.3% lower than previously reported rate
[2]. It is estimated that 1.4 million people are living with HIV in Tanzania
[1] with females more affected as compared to their male counterparts.

A total of 270 (89%) participants were recruited during the study duration. Of the participants 72.2% (195/270) were females and 88.1% (238/270) were aged above 30 years, the mean age of study participants was 39.3 ± 8.5 years. One hundred and nineteen (44.1%) were married, 73.7% (199/270) had primary school education and 73.0% (197/270) were employed. Two hundred and fifty two participants (93.3%) had disclosed their HIV sero-status. As shown in Table 
1, male and female had similar disclosure status 93.3%. The difference between participants who disclosed and did not were not significant except for age category whereby the proportion of participants who had disclosed their status was higher among participants aged above 30 years as compared to those aged below 30 years (94.5% vs. 84.4%, p = 0.0304) as shown in Table 
1. Fifty percent of participants who disclosed reported to have done it to their family member/close relative while 25.4% disclosed to their spouses and 19% to their parents/guardians as described in Table 

This study was conducted to determine reasons and effects of HIV serostatus disclosure among PLWHA in Mwanza, Tanzania. Most people living with HIV/AIDS (93.3%) reported to have disclosed their serostatus. Findings from this study are similar to reports by Deribe et al. (94.5%) and Seid et al. (93.1%) from studies conducted among HIV infected men and women using clinical services in Ethiopia
[12,13]. The rate of disclosure was similar between males and females in this study, contrary to reports by Anglewicza et al. and Simbayi et al. in studies conducted in Malawi and South Africa respectively, which noted higher rates of disclosure to sexual partners among female participants as compared to males
[14,15]. Mwanga et al. reported higher proportion of male participants to have disclosed to their sexual partners in a study conducted among CTC clients in Kisarawe district in Tanzania

High rate of HIV disclosure noted in this study is encouraging, however it is important to consider the negative outcomes following disclosure reported in this study. The delay in disclosure and the small proportion of participants who had not disclosed sends an important message to the players in the fights against HIV/AIDS to put emphasis on increasing awareness in the community on the impact of stigma and discrimination. There is a need therefore, to explore factors which are hindering successful and timely disclosure of HIV serostatus in Tanzania.

Authors declare that there are no competing interests.

GY – designed the study, prepared questionnaire, collected data, performed preliminary analysis and wrote the preliminary report for this study. GL – designing of the study, data collection, data analysis and review of manuscript. FF – participated in data analysis and drafting first manuscript for this study. All authors have read and approved this manuscript.




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