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Indicators for sexual HIV transmission risk among people in Thailand attending HIV care: the importance of positive prevention


Background: Almost half of all new HIV infections in Thailand occur among low-risk partners of people infected with HIV, so it is important to include people infected with HIV in prevention efforts.

Methods: Risk for HIV transmission was assessed among people with HIV attending routine care at the National Infectious Disease Institute in Thailand. Sexual risk behaviour, sexually transmitted infection (STI—syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and genital ulcers) prevalence and HIV disclosure status were assessed. Patients were provided with STI care, risk-reduction and HIV disclosure counselling.

Results: Baseline data were assessed among 894 consecutive people with HIV (395 men and 499 women) from July 2005 to September 2006. Unprotected last sex with a partner of unknown or negative HIV status (unsafe sex) was common (33.2%) and more likely with casual, commercial or male-to-male sex partners than with steady heterosexual partners (p = 0.03). People receiving antiretroviral treatment were less likely to report unsafe sex (p<0.001). Overall, 10.7% of men and 7.2% of women had a STI (p = 0.08). More women than men had disclosed HIV status to their steady partners (82.5% vs 65.9%; p = 0.05).

Conclusion: Indicators for HIV transmission risk were common among people attending HIV care in Bangkok. Efforts need to be strengthened to reduce unsafe casual and commercial sex and to increase HIV disclosure from men to their partners. A strategy for STI screening and treatment for people with HIV in Thailand should be developed.

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