HIV Status Disclosure Among Postpartum Women in Zambia with Varied Intimate Partner Violence Experiences
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HIV-positive pregnant and postpartum women's status disclosure to male sexual partners is associated with improved HIV and maternal and child health outcomes. Yet, status disclosure remains a challenge for many women living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly those who are fearful of violence. The objective of the present study is to advance the current understanding of the relationship between intimate partner violence against women and their HIV status disclosure behaviors. We specifically evaluate how the severity, frequency, and type of violence against postpartum HIV-positive women affect status disclosure within married/cohabiting couples. A cross-sectional survey was administered by trained local research assistants to 320 HIV-positive postpartum women attending a large public health center for pediatric immunizations in Lusaka, Zambia. Survey data captured women's self-reports of various forms of intimate partner violence and whether they disclosed their HIV status to the current male partner. Multiple logistic regression models determined the odds of status disclosure by the severity, frequency, and type of violence women experienced. Our findings indicate a negative dose-response relationship between the severity and frequency of intimate partner violence and status disclosure to male partners. Physical violence has a more pronounced effect on status disclosure than sexual or emotional violence. Safe options for women living with HIV who experience intimate partner violence, particularly severe and frequent physical violence, are urgently needed. This includes HIV counselors' ability to evaluate the pros and cons of status disclosure among women and support some women's decisions not to disclose.