Concurrent partnerships in Cape Town, South Africa : race and sex differences in prevalence and duration of overlap
CITATION: Beauclair, R., Hens, N. & Delva, W. 2015. Concurrent partnerships in Cape Town, South Africa : race and sex differences in prevalence and duration of overlap. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 18:19372, doi: 10.7448/IAS.18.1.19372.
The original publication is available at http://www.jiasociety.org
Introduction: Concurrent partnerships (CPs) have been suggested as a risk factor for transmitting HIV, but their impact on the epidemic depends upon how prevalent they are in populations, the average number of CPs an individual has and the length of time they overlap. However, estimates of prevalence of CPs in Southern Africa vary widely, and the duration of overlap in these relationships is poorly documented. We aim to characterize concurrency in a more accurate and complete manner, using data from three disadvantaged communities of Cape Town, South Africa. Methods: We conducted a sexual behaviour survey (n 878) from June 2011 to February 2012 in Cape Town, using Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing to collect sexual relationship histories on partners in the past year. Using the beginning and end dates for the partnerships, we calculated the point prevalence, the cumulative prevalence and the incidence rate of CPs, as well as the duration of overlap for relationships begun in the previous year. Linear and binomial regression models were used to quantify race (black vs. coloured) and sex differences in the duration of overlap and relative risk of having CPs in the past year. Results: The overall point prevalence of CPs six months before the survey was 8.4%: 13.4% for black men, 1.9% for coloured men, 7.8% black women and 5.6% for coloured women. The median duration of overlap in CPs was 7.5 weeks.Women had less risk of CPs in the previous year than men (RR 0.43; 95% CI: 0.32 0.57) and black participants were more at risk than coloured participants (RR 1.86; 95% CI: 1.17 2.97). Conclusions: Our results indicate that in this population the prevalence of CPs is relatively high and is characterized by overlaps of long duration, implying there may be opportunities for HIV to be transmitted to concurrent partners.