Psychosocial support for HIV serodiscordant couples

Constance Matshidiso Lelaka, Idah Moyo*, Livhuwani Tshivhase, Azwihangwisi Helen Mavhandu-Mudzusi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic, with 8.2 million people living with the virus. It has a high HIV prevalence of 13.7% and 230,000 new infections in 2020. It is estimated that HIV serodiscordant couples contribute up to 60% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa. However, there have been no specific programmes/activities to deliberately cater for couples in HIV serodiscordant relationships. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychosocial support provided for HIV serodiscordant couples both in health care settings and in the community. Methods: An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) design was utilised for this study. In-depth interviews were conducted with thirteen HIV serodiscordant couples. Data collection was guided by an interview guide. All audio-recorded interview data were transcribed verbatim into written text. Data analysis was conducted using an interpretative phenomenological analysis framework. A third person-an expert in qualitative research, acted as an independent co-coder and conducted the open coding of each transcript. Findings: The findings indicated that HIV serodiscordant couples received psychosocial support from their partners, family, and health care workers. This support was emotional, or in the form of counselling, reminders on taking medication, financial and household chores. The support provided by health care providers proved to be deficient and did not address the diverse needs of this group. Conclusion: Psychosocial support plays a critical role in enhancing the quality of life of HIV serodiscordant couples. Therefore, client centred, and tailor-made interventions should be made available to this special with diverse needs group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-556
Number of pages20
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • HIV
  • HIV serodiscordant couple
  • psychosocial support


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