Seek, Test and Disclose: Knowledge of HIV Testing and Serostatus among High-Risk Couples in a South African Township

September 2015 - Combination Prevention

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Doherty, I.A., Myers, B., Zule, W.A., et al. Sexually Transmitted Infections (July 2015), pii: sextrans-2014-051882; doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2014-051882.

This study analyzed data on 290 high-risk couples from Khayelitsha, South Africa to investigate couple’s knowledge about their partners' HIV testing and serostatus. All participants were tested for HIV at baseline and asked about their partner’s past HIV testing and current status. Of the 108 women (38 percent) reporting that their partner was not infected, 95 percent were correct; 58 percent of women did not know their partner’s status. Among men, 29 percent believed their partner was HIV-negative, and most were correct (83 percent and 4 percent newly diagnosed). However, the majority of men (66 percent) did not know their partner’s HIV status. Moreover, only in 17 percent of couples did both partners correctly report one another's HIV status. Men in this population did not seek HIV testing nearly as often as women, but when they received counseling and tested, or a positive diagnosis, both members of the couple were more likely to know their partner’s status. Most women did not disclose their HIV serostatus to their partners; only 13 percent of women were in a partnership with mutually correct knowledge of partner serostatus. The authors concluded that to reduce onward transmission of HIV in South Africa, programs must improve HIV testing uptake among men and HIV disclosure among women in heterosexual partnerships.

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