Female Sexual Partners of Male People Who Inject Drugs in Vietnam Have Poor Knowledge of Their Male Partners' HIV Status

March 2015 - Behavioral Prevention

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Hammett, T. M., Phan, S., Nguyen, P., et al. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (December 2014), doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000512.

Vietnam's HIV epidemic is concentrated among people who inject drugs (PWID), and female sexual partners (SPs) of male PWID may be at high risk for HIV infection due to incorrect knowledge of their partner's HIV status. This study assessed the level of accuracy of SPs’ knowledge of their male PWID partners’ HIV status following interventions that provided individual and group counseling and outreach, distribution of informational materials, condoms, and/or HIV service referral to HIV-negative SPs in Dien Bien, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Between 12 and 48 months after the interventions, the authors conducted linked surveys (behavioral interviews and HIV testing) among PWID-SP couples at all study sites. A comparison of SPs’ beliefs about their PWID partners’ HIV status and the PWIDs’ actual test results showed that a significant proportion of SPs (32 percent in Dien Bien and 44 percent in Hanoi and HCMC) lacked correct knowledge of their male partners’ status. This proportion was lower among SPs whose partners reported being tested previously (21 percent) and receiving positive results (33 percent), due to male PWID’s self-reported disclosure of HIV status to their female SPs. The authors concluded that HIV testing, disclosure, and treatment for SPs in Vietnam, as well as their empowerment within couples, can help SPs avoid acquiring HIV.

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