Enhancing HIV status disclosure and partners’ testing through counselling in Tanzania
Background: In Tanzania HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) is being implemented through voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), provider initiated counselling and testing (PITC) and work place counselling and testing (HTC). Within these programmes, HIV status disclosure is emphasized. However, among persons who test HIV positive, many do not disclose their status to their partners and social networks. However, data are lacking on the effectiveness of the different HTC strategies on HIV positive status disclosure.
Objective: To investigate which of the three HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) strategies: Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT), Provider Initiated Counselling and Testing (PITC) and work place Counselling and testing is associated with improved HIV-positive status disclosure in Eastern Tanzania.
Methods: Structured interviews were conducted with 455 newly diagnosed HIV-positive clients at 6 HTC sites during enrolment and at three months follow-up to collect data on disclosure status.
Results: We found that PITC strategy attended a relatively higher proportion of clients 182/455(40.1%) as compared to VCT 169/455 (37.1%) and work place HTC strategies 104/455(22.9%) respectively. Among clients, about one third 130/455(28.6%) were found to be HIV-positive. HIV status disclosure rates were variable and were in order of preference of disclosing to family members 86/130(66.2 %), followed by relatives 74/130(56.9%) and sexual partners 71/130(54.6%). A high proportion of participants 77/130(59.2%) experienced violence acts from sexual partners in form of stigma and discrimination, abuse, divorce and termination from employment. In the multivariate logistic regression, disclosure to sexual partners was associated with violence acts of about two times higher (Disclosure to Partners OR=1.89) when compared to the group that did not disclose to their partners.
Conclusion: PITC strategy was found to result into higher rates of HIV positive status disclosure when compared to VCT and work place HTC strategies. Stigma, discrimination and violence acts are still prevalent in Tanzania and discourages HIV positive status disclosure. Based on these findings, there is an urgent need of promoting public education on HIV transmission, prevention and treatment and enhancing strategies to reduce risky sexual behaviour and increase condom use.