Background STIs among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) have a direct implication on spread of HIV and the effectiveness of prevention programmes. For the first time, risk behaviour and STI prevalence was determined for PLHIV in Belize, as part of the 2012 Central American Behavioral Surveillance Survey of HIV/STI.
Methods Participants were selected based on convenience sampling of active PLWHA in the Belize Health Information System. Data collection consisted of a behavioural survey questionnaire administred through audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI). A blood sample was drawn for syphilis and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) testing. Additionally, genital samples were tested for Treponema pallidum (TP), Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG), Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) and Mycoplasma genitalium (MG). Participation was voluntary and anonymous, signed consent was required. Crude proportions for categorical variables and medians and interquartile range (IQR) for numerical variables were calculated using STATA 9.0.
Results A total of 252 PLHIV were enrolled (57% female), from three districts of Belize (concentrating 80% of the PLHIV in the country). Median age was 45 years old (IQR 28–42). Long-standing diagnosed HIV infection was detected, median 5 years (IQR 2.3–8). Low monthly income (< US$360) was found in 85% females and 50% males, 37.0% reported no current stable partners or occasional partners in the last year. Low percentage of consistent condom use with stable partners (40% female, 47.7% male) was reported. A high prevalence for HSV-2 (82.86%), followed by TV (40.3% female and 2.25% male) and MG (13.2% female and 17.98% male) and a low prevalence for syphilis (1.6%) and NG was observed (1.12%).
Results from the first behavioural and biological survey among PLHIV demonstrate a need for implementation of a specific Sexual Health Program for this population. This programme would include education promoting a healthy sexual lifestyle, and regular distribution of condoms.