Influence of Social Cultural Factors on HIV Seropositivity Disclosure to Sexual Partners in Kenya
The purpose of the study was to assess whether sociocultural factors have an influence on the self-disclosure of HIV serostatus to intimate partners among People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). A survey was conducted among 232 randomly selected respondents who were HIV seropositive and were members of a registered community-based support group for PLWHA in Nairobi, Kenya. Data was gathered by means of semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Results revealed that the marital status of the respondents varied from never married (13.4%), married (27.6%), separated (26.3%), divorced (4.3%) and widowed (28.4%). Approximately half of the respondents (50.4%) had disclosed their HIV serostatus to their intimate partners while 49.6% had not. The binary logistic regression results established that some socio-cultural factors fostered HIV seropositivity disclosure while others did not. The positive predictors of HIV serostatus disclosure were gender inequalities in the sexual relationship (AOR=4.129; p=0.011), the role of females as dependent housewives (AOR=1.322; P=0.004), anticipated divorce following HIV disclosure (AOR=2.578; p=0.014) and the cultural belief that HIV was a curse (AOR=2.444; p=0.005). However, sexual behaviour such as homosexuality, rape, incest, sex with minors and extramarital sex (AOR=0.225; p=0.001), intimate partner violence (AOR=0.220; p=0.001), the subordination of females by their male partners (AOR=0.351; p=0.002) and the fear of exclusion from the cultural rite of wife inheritance during widowhood (AOR=0.410; p=0.002) were negative predictors of disclosure of HIV serostatus. This implies that there was no likelihood of HIV disclosure, thereby putting intimate partners at risk of HIV infection. It was recommended that there was the need to promote community discourse on HIV and AIDS in order to reduce the socio-cultural barriers to self-disclosure of HIV seropositive status and to increase the community acceptance of people living with HIV and AIDS.
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