Factors associated with unawareness of HIV-positive status in urban Ethiopia: Evidence from the Ethiopia population-based HIV impact assessment 2017-2018

Sileshi Lulseged, Wudinesh Belete, Jelaludin Ahmed, Terefe Gelibo, Habtamu Teklie, Christine W West, Zenebe Melaku, Minilik Demissie, Mansoor Farhani, Frehywot Eshetu, Sehin Birhanu, Yimam Getaneh, Hetal Patel, Andrew C Voetsch, EPHIA Study Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The HIV epidemic in Ethiopia is concentrated in urban areas. Ethiopia conducted a Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (EPHIA) in urban areas between October 2017 and April 2018 to measure the status of the country's response to the epidemic.

METHODS: We conducted field data collection and HIV testing in randomly selected households using the national, rapid testing algorithm with laboratory confirmation of seropositive samples using a supplemental assay. In addition to self-report on HIV diagnosis and treatment, all HIV-positive participants were screened for a set of HIV antiretroviral (ARV) drugs indicative of the first- and second-line regimens. We calculated weighted frequencies and 95% confidence intervals to assess regional variation in participants' level of unawareness of their HIV-positive status (adjusted for ARV status).

RESULTS: We interviewed 20,170 survey participants 15-64 years of age, of which 19,136 (95%) were tested for HIV, 614 (3.2%) tested positive, and 119 (21%) of HIV-positive persons were unaware of their HIV status. Progress towards the UNAIDS first 90 target (90% of people living with HIV would be aware of their HIV status by 2020) substantially differed by administrative region of the country. In the bivariate analysis using log binomial regression, three regions (Oromia, Addis Ababa, and Harari), male gender, and young age (15-24 years) were significantly associated with awareness of HIV positive status. In multivariate analysis, the same variables were associated with awareness of HIV-positive status.

CONCLUSION: One-fifth of the HIV-positive urban population were unaware of their HIV-positive status. The number of unaware HIV-positive individuals has a different distribution than the HIV prevalence. National and regional planning and monitoring activities could address this potentially substantial source of undetected HIV infection by increasing HIV testing among young people, men and individuals who do not use condoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0255163
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents/therapeutic use
  • Behavior
  • Cost of Illness
  • Ethiopia/epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections/drug therapy
  • HIV Testing
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


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