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Background: In many countries in Asia, the HIV epidemic is in a concentrated phase, with high prevalence in certain risk groups, such as men who inject drugs. There is also a rapid increase of HIV among women. The latter might be due to high levels of sero-discordant couples and increasing transmission from male to female partners over time. Methods: All adult married patients initiating antiretroviral treatment at four out-patient clinics in Quang Ninh province in north-eastern Vietnam between 2007 and 2009 were asked to participate in the study. Clinical information was extracted from patients' records, and a structured questionnaire was used to collect social, demographic and economic data. Results: Two hundred eighty-eight married patients for whom information on the HIV status of their spouse was available were included in the study. Overall, the sero-discordance rate was 58%. The sero-discordance rate was significantly higher among married males, 71% had spouses not infected, than married females, of whom 18% had spouses not infected. Other factors associated with a high rate of sero-discordance were injection drug use (IDU) history, tuberculosis (TB) history and the availability of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) in residential locations. High sero-concordance was associated with college/university education. Conclusion: The sero-discordance was significantly higher among married males than married females. Other factors also related to high sero-discordance were history of IDU, history of TB and the availability of VCT in residential locations. In contrast, college/university education and female sex were significantly related to low sero-discordance. To contain the increasing HIV prevalence among women, measures should be taken to prevent transmission among sero-discordant couples. Trial registration NCT01433601
Tam, V., Cuong, D. D., Alfven, T., Phuc, H. D., Chuc, N. T. K., Hoa, N. P., … Larsson, M. (2016). HIV sero-discordance among married HIV patients initiating anti-retroviral therapy in northern Vietnam. AIDS Research and Therapy, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12981-016-0124-9