Understanding the Risk Profile of Young Women's Male Partners in Rural South Africa

Young women in sub-Saharan Africa are at very high risk of HIV Infection. Certain characteristics and behaviors of male partners increase young women’s risk of infection; however, to date there are limited empirical data on the male partners of young women. This project provides a unique opportunity to bring in the male partners of young South African women who have been followed since they were as young as 15 years as part of an HIV prevention trial – HPTN 068. These women are now ages 18-22 on average, have left high school and have a high incidence of HIV infection. This project will ask young women to name their male partners at an upcoming study visit so that the partners can be invited to participate in a behavioral interview and to test for HIV. Through this survey, an assessment will be made of young men’s reported risk behaviors, partner numbers, testing behavior including barriers to testing and care, and their HIV status (including whether they are on ART if they are positive and virally suppressed). Phylogenetic analyses will also be conducted to link young women and men who are infected to better understand how risk behaviors lead to infection, something that is not as accurately done when only ego-centric information on partners is collected. Through the unique combination of the young women’s longitudinal behavioral data from HPTN 068 – covering the transition from adolescence to young adulthood – and from the male partner from this study, a better assessment can be made of partnership profiles/typologies, along with a determination of how these behaviors are associated with HIV infection. This will lead to a better understanding of the men who are infected to design programs to get them tested and on treatment.

Principal Investigator: Audrey E. Pettifor

Other Investigators: Ann Dennis

Funding Source: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Grant Number: OPP1154943

Funding Period: 8/1/2016 - 1/31/2018

Primary Research Area: Population Health

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