Background We tried to understand the positive prevention practices in people living with HIV in Karnataka with specific focus on behaviours related to seeking treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and condom use. This gives an indication of programmatic efforts to further halt the transmission of virus and promote healthy behaviours within communities.
Methods During 2010, a cross-sectional survey was administered to 282 PLHIV across three districts of Karnataka in the context of large scale HIV care and support program. Information related to positive prevention practices surrounding STIs and condom use were collected, as well as socio-demographic details.
Results Of the eligible 338 PLHIV, 283 participated with a response rate of 83.7% (144 men and 139 women). Majority of the men were married (66%) while women were either widowed or separated (57%). Knowledge about STIs among women was better than men (94.8%, 51.1%), but women reported more STIs in the last one year compared to men (36.3%: 14.7%, p<0.001). 17.5% of never married, 21% of married and 33% of separated/ widowed also reported STIs. 98.6% of those who reported STIs had accessed treatment, but only 64.7% completed treatment for any particular STI. Treatment completion rate for separated or divorced PLHIVs was poorest (60.7%). Reported condom use with regular partners was reported as lowest by the widowed persons (50%) followed by elderly PLHIVs (61%) and never married (71%). People who were contacted by peer supported programs reported better knowledge about STIs and more consistent condom use with regular partners (86% vs 78%, p<0.01).
Conclusions The study reveals that certain profiles of people living with HIV such as females in general and widows in particular; younger and never married PLHIVs are more vulnerable than the rest and hence need more attention in terms of prevention efforts by the programs. Better micro-planning and peer mediated outreach efforts focused on these profiles can yield better impact in resource constrained settings.
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