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      The risks of partner violence following HIV status disclosure, and health service responses: narratives of women attending reproductive health services in Kenya

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          For many women living with HIV (WLWH), the disclosure of positive status can lead to either an extension of former violence or new conflict specifically associated with HIV status disclosure. This study aims to explore the following about WLWH: 1. the women's experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) risks following disclosure to their partners; 2. an analysis of the women's views on the role of health providers in preventing and addressing IPV, especially following HIV disclosure.


          Thirty qualitative interviews were conducted with purposively selected WLWH attending clinics in Kenya. Data were coded using NVivo 9 and analyzed thematically.


          Nearly one third of the respondents reported experiencing physical and/or emotional violence inflicted by their partners following the sero-disclosure, suggesting that HIV status disclosure can be a period of heightened risk for partner stigma and abuse, and financial withdrawal, and thus should be handled with caution. Sero-concordance was protective for emotional and verbal abuse once the partner knew his positive status, or knew the woman knew his status. Our results show acceptance of the role of the health services in helping prevent and reduce anticipated fear of partner stigma and violence as barriers to HIV disclosure. Some of the approaches suggested by our respondents included couple counselling, separate counselling sessions for men, and facilitated disclosure. The women's narratives illustrate the importance of integrating discussions on risks for partner violence and fear of disclosure into HIV counselling and testing, helping women develop communication skills in how to disclose their status, and reducing fear about marital separation and break-up. Women in our study also confirmed the key role of preventive health services in reducing blame for HIV transmission and raising awareness on HIV as a chronic disease. However, several women reported receiving no counselling on safe disclosure of HIV status.


          Integration of partner violence identification and care into sexual, reproductive and HIV services for WLWH could be a way forward. The health sector can play a preventive role by sensitizing providers to the potential risks for partner violence following disclosure and ensuring that the women's decision to disclose is fully informed and voluntary.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Health consequences of intimate partner violence.

          Intimate partner violence, which describes physical or sexual assault, or both, of a spouse or sexual intimate, is a common health-care issue. In this article, I have reviewed research on the mental and physical health sequelae of such violence. Increased health problems such as injury, chronic pain, gastrointestinal, and gynaecological signs including sexually-transmitted diseases, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are well documented by controlled research in abused women in various settings. Intimate partner violence has been noted in 3-13% of pregnancies in many studies from around the world, and is associated with detrimental outcomes to mothers and infants. I recommend increased assessment and interventions for intimate partner violence in health-care settings.
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            Global health. The global prevalence of intimate partner violence against women.

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

              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.

                Author and article information

                J Int AIDS Soc
                J Int AIDS Soc
                Journal of the International AIDS Society
                International AIDS Society
                31 March 2016
                : 19
                : 1
                [1 ]Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
                [2 ]Youth Programme, Save the Children US, London, UK
                [3 ]Reproductive Health Program, Population Council, Nairobi, Kenya
                Author notes
                [§ ] Corresponding author: Manuela Colombini, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH, UK. Tel: +0044 (0)20 7927 2700; 0027 729929586. ( manuela.colombini@ 123456lshtm.ac.uk )
                []Members of the Integra team are listed in the Acknowledgements section.
                © 2016 Colombini M et al; licensee International AIDS Society

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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