Estimating HIV Prevalence and HIV-Related Risk Behaviors among Heterosexual Women Who Have Multiple Sex Partners Using Respondent-Driven Sampling in a High-Risk Community in South Africa

April 2013 - Behavioral Prevention

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Townsend, L., Zembe, Y., Mathews, C., et al. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (April 2013), Vol. 62 No. 4, pp.457-464.

The authors utilized respondent-driven sampling (RDS) from March to July 2011 to recruit women who have multiple concurrent partners (MCP) near Cape Town for an HIV biological and behavioral surveillance survey to determine RDS effectiveness, HIV prevalence and characteristics, and risk differences between women who had and had not attended public health clinics. Women who had MCP also had high prevalence of HIV risk behaviors. In total, 845 women (ages 16-44) participated, and nearly 40 percent accepted rapid HIV testing, revealing a high prevalence rate (29 percent). Younger women (ages 20-24) had the highest prevalence (32 percent). Fifty percent reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms, and the majority (86 percent) reported MCP within the previous three months. Approximately 78 percent of women suspected partner infidelity, but their condom use was the same as women who did not suspect infidelity; overall use with main partners was low. Ten percent of participants had not previously attended health clinics and were younger, had early sexual debut, and reported STI symptoms and drug use. Strategies are needed to increase their engagement in sexual and reproductive health care. RDS recruitment was effective, and the authors concluded that HIV prevention programs should address HIV risk behaviors within this population.

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