Objective Recent randomised clinical trials among stable HIV sero-discordant couples (SDCs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have reported that about 20–30% of new HIV infections are acquired from external sexual partners, rather than transmitted from the infected to the uninfected partner within the couple. The aim of this study is to examine whether, and to what extent, these findings are generalisable to SDCs in the wider population in SSA.
Methods A mathematical model was constructed to calculate the fraction of new HIV-1 infections among SDCs that are due to sources external to the couple. The model was parameterised using empirical and population-based data for 20 countries in SSA. Uncertainty and sensitivity analyses were also conducted.
Results The contribution of external infections among SDCs was generally modest, but it varied widely across SSA. In low HIV prevalence countries (≤3.0%), it ranged from 0.6–2.9%. In intermediate prevalence countries (3.0–18.0%), it ranged from 4.9–11.7%. In Swaziland and Lesotho, the world's most-intense epidemics, sizable levels of 27.9% and 27.3% were found, respectively.
Conclusions In most countries in SSA, nearly all HIV acquisitions by the uninfected partners in SDCs appear to be due to transmissions from the HIV infected partners in the SDCs. The contribution of externally acquired infections varies with HIV population prevalence, but rarely exceeds 10% in the majority of countries. Only in hyperendemic HIV epidemics the contribution of external infections is substantial and may reach the levels reported in recent randomised clinical trials involving SDCs.
- Epidemiology (General)
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/legalcode
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.
Files in this Data Supplement:
- Data supplement 1 - Online appendix