Publication Type: Journal article
Year: 2022
Author(s):  Olanrewaju Edun, Yulia Shenderovich, Siyanai Zhou, Elona Toska, Lucy Okell, Jeffrey W. Eaton, Lucie Cluver
Unit: AARHub
Journal: Journal of the International AIDS Society

Abstract: "Introduction: The World Health Organization recommends full disclosure of HIV-positive status to adolescents who acquired HIV perinatally (APHIV) by age 12. However, even among adolescents (aged 10–19) already on antiretroviral therapy (ART), disclosure rates are low. Caregivers often report the child being too young and fear of disclosure worsening adolescents’ mental health as reasons for non-disclosure. We aimed to identify the predictors of disclosure and the association of disclosure with adherence, viral suppression and mental health outcomes among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: Analyses included three rounds (2014–2018) of data collected among a closed cohort of adolescents living with HIV in Eastern Cape, South Africa. We used logistic regression with respondent random-effects to identify factors associated with disclosure, and assess differences in ART adherence, viral suppression and mental health symptoms between adolescents by disclosure status. We also explored differences in the change in mental health symptoms and adherence between study rounds and disclosure groups with logistic regression. Results: Eight hundred and thirteen APHIV were interviewed at baseline, of whom 769 (94.6%) and 729 (89.7%) were interviewed at the second and third rounds, respectively. The proportion aware of their HIV-positive status increased from 63.1% at the first round to 85.5% by the third round. Older age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.27; 1.08–1.48) and living in an urban location (aOR: 2.85; 1.72–4.73) were associated with disclosure between interviews. There was no association between awareness of HIV-positive status and ART adherence, viral suppression or mental health symptoms among all APHIV interviewed. However, among APHIV not aware of their status at baseline, adherence decreased at the second round among those who were disclosed to (N = 131) and increased among those not disclosed to (N = 151) (interaction aOR: 0.39; 0.19–0.80). There was no significant difference in the change in mental health symptoms between study rounds and disclosure groups. Conclusions: Awareness of HIV-positive status was not associated with higher rates of mental health symptoms, or lower rates of viral suppression among adolescents. Disclosure was not associated with worse mental health. These findings support the recommendation for timely disclosure to APHIV; however, adherence support post-disclosure is important."

Citation:  Edun, O., Shenderovich, Y., Zhou, S., Toska, E., Okell, L., Eaton, J. W., & Cluver, L. (2022). Predictors and consequences of HIV status disclosure to adolescents living with HIV in Eastern Cape, South Africa: a prospective cohort study. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 25(5), e25910.