Acceptability of Couples’ Voluntary HIV Testing Among HIV-Infected Patients in Care and Their HIV-negative Partners in the United States
Couples' voluntary HIV counseling and testing (CHTC) is an HIV risk reduction strategy not widely available in the US.
We assessed willingness to participate in CHTC among US HIV-infected clinic patients via tablet-based survey and among HIV-negative persons with HIV-infected partners in care via mixed-method phone interviews.
Most of the N=64 HIV-infected partners surveyed were men (89%), on antiretroviral treatment (ART) (92%), and many self-identified homosexual (62%). We observed high levels of willingness to participate in CHTC (64%) among HIV-infected partners. Reasons for not wanting to participate included perceived lack of need (26%), desire to self-disclose their status (26%), and fear of being asked sensitive questions with their partner present (17%). HIV-infected partners were interested in discussing ART (48%), other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (44%), and relationship agreements like monogamy (31%) during CHTC sessions. All N=15 HIV-negative partners interviewed were men, most identified as homosexual (73%), and about half (54%) reported consistent condom use with HIV-infected partners. We observed high levels of willingness to participate in CHTC (87%) among HIV-negative partners, who were also interested in discussing ART (47%), other STIs (47%), mental health services (40%), and relationship agreements (33%). Most negative partners (93%) indicated that they believed their HIV-infected partner was virally suppressed, but in the event that they were not, many (73%) were willing to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
These results indicate that CHTC for serodiscordant couples is acceptable and should emphasize aspects most pertinent to these couples, such as discussion of ART/PrEP, STIs, and relationship agreements.