Safer disclosure of HIV serostatus for women living with HIV who experience or fear violence: A systematic review

Caitlin E. Kennedy, Sabina Haberlen, Avni Amin, Rachel Baggaley, Manjulaa Narasimhan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Introduction: Supporting individuals as they disclose their HIV serostatus may lead to a variety of individual and public health benefits. However, many women living with HIV are hesitant to disclose their HIV status due to fear of negative outcomes such as violence, abandonment, relationship dissolution and stigma. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of studies evaluating interventions to facilitate safer disclosure of HIV status for women living with HIV who experience or fear violence. Articles, conference abstracts and programme reports were included if they reported post-intervention evaluation results and were published before 1 April 2015. Searching was conducted through electronic databases for peer-reviewed articles and conference abstracts, reviewing websites of relevant organizations for grey literature, hand searching reference lists of included studies and contacting experts. Systematic methods were used for screening and data abstraction, which was conducted in duplicate. Study quality (rigor) was assessed with the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Results: Two interventions met the inclusion criteria: the Safe Homes and Respect for Everyone cluster-randomized trial of combination HIV and intimate partner violence (IPV) services in Rakai, Uganda, and the South Africa HIV/AIDS Antenatal Post-Test Support study individual randomized trial of an enhanced counselling intervention for pregnant women undergoing HIV testing and counselling. Both programmes integrated screening for IPV into HIV testing services and trained counsellors to facilitate discussions about disclosure based on a woman's risk of violence. However, both were implemented as part of multiple-component interventions, making it impossible to isolate the impact of the safer disclosure components. Conclusions: The existing evidence base for interventions to facilitate safe HIV serostatus disclosure for women who experience or fear violence is limited. Development and implementation of new approaches and rigorous evaluation of safe disclosure outcomes is needed to guide programme planners and policy makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20292
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Disclosure
  • Gender-based violence
  • Review
  • Systematic
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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