The Epidemiology of HIV and HSV-2 Infections among Women Participating in Microbicide and Vaccine Feasibility Studies in Northern Tanzania

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Abstract

Objectives To prepare for future HIV prevention trials, we conducted prospective cohort studies among women working in food and recreational facilities in northern Tanzania. We examined the prevalence and incidence of HIV and HSV-2, and associated risk factors. Methods Women aged 18–44 years working in food and recreational facilities were screened to determine their eligibility for the studies. Between 2008–2010, HIV-negative women were enrolled and followed for 12 months. At enrolment and 3-monthly, we collected socio-demographic and behavioural data, and performed clinical examinations for collection of biological specimens that were tested for reproductive tract infections. Risk factors for HIV and HSV-2 incidence were investigated using Poisson regression models. Results We screened 2,229 and enrolled 1,378 women. The median age was 27 years (interquartile range, IQR 22, 33), and median duration working at current facility was 2 years. The prevalences of HIV at screening and HSV-2 at enrolment were 16% and 67%, respectively. Attendance at the 12-month visit was 86%. HIV and HSV-2 incidence rates were 3.7 (95% confidence interval, CI: 2.8,5.1) and 28.6 (95% CI: 23.5,35.0)/100 person-years, respectively. Women who were separated, divorced, or widowed were at increased risk of HIV (adjusted incidence rate ratio, aRR = 6.63; 95% CI: 1.97,22.2) and HSV-2 (aRR = 2.00; 95% CI: 1.15,3.47) compared with married women. Women reporting ≥3 partners in the past 3 months were at higher HIV risk compared with women with 0–1 partner (aRR = 4.75; 95% CI: 2.10,10.8), while those who had reached secondary education or above were at lower risk of HSV-2 compared with women with incomplete primary education (aRR = 0.42; 95% CI: 0.22,0.82). Conclusions HIV and HSV-2 rates remain substantially higher in this cohort than in the general population, indicating urgent need for effective interventions. These studies demonstrate the feasibility of conducting trials to test new interventions in this highly-mobile population.

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Kapiga, S. H., Ewings, F. M., Ao, T., Chilongani, J., Mongi, A., Baisley, K., … Hayes, R. (2013). The Epidemiology of HIV and HSV-2 Infections among Women Participating in Microbicide and Vaccine Feasibility Studies in Northern Tanzania. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068825

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