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Unsafe sex in regular partnerships among heterosexual persons living with HIV: evidence from a large representative sample of individuals attending outpatients services in France (ANRS-EN12-VESPA Study)

Bouhnik, Anne-Déboraha,b; Préau, Mariea,c; Lert, Franced; Peretti-Watel, Patricka,b; Schiltz, Marie-Angee; Obadia, Yolandea,b; Spire, Brunoa,b; the VESPA Study Group

doi: 10.1097/01.aids.0000255086.54599.23
Editorial

Objective: Risky sexual behaviour remains frequent among people living with HIV. We analysed factors associated with unsafe sex within serodiscordant couples among heterosexual individuals living with HIV in France.

Methods: In 2003, a face-to-face survey was conducted among individuals selected in a random stratified sample of 102 French hospital departments delivering HIV care. This analysis included adults heterosexual participants in a regular partnership for at least 12 months with a seronegative/unknown serostatus partner, HIV-diagnosed for at least 12 months. Unsafe sex was defined as reporting inconsistent condom use in the prior 12 months. Among men and women, participants who reported unsafe sex were compared with those who did not.

Results: 663 heterosexual adults reported being in a serodiscordant regular partnership. Women accounted for 41% of participants and 26% of the sample were immigrants. Unsafe sex with the steady partner was reported by 26% of men and 34% of women (p = 0.024).

For men, factors independently associated with unsafe sex were being in a relationship for more than 10 years, being in a difficult financial situation and reporting regular consumption of alcohol to excess.

Among women, having a history of drug use, not being aware of partner's serostatus, and reporting a difficult financial situation were independently associated with unsafe sex. In addition, immigrant women were associated with safer sex.

Conclusions: A high number of serodiscordant couples continue to report risky sexual behaviour, and related factors are gender-specific. Couple-level interventions are essential in order to prevent HIV-transmission and to encourage negotiation within couples.

From the aHealth and Medical Research National Institute (INSERM), Research Unit 379, Social Sciences Applied to Medical Innovation, Institut Paoli Calmettes, Marseille, France

bSouth-eastern Health Regional Observatory (ORS PACA), Marseille, France

cSocial Psychology Department, Aix-Marseille I University, Aix en Provence, France

dINSERM Research Unit 687 ‘Public Health and Epidemiology of the Social and Occupational Determinants of Health’, Saint-Maurice, France

eNational Centre of Scientific Research (CAMS-CERMES-CNRS-EHESS), Paris, France.

*See Appendix for members of the VESPA Study Group.

Received 19 April, 2006

Revised 23 July, 2006

Accepted 31 July, 2006

Correspondence to Anne-Déborah Bouhnik, South-Eastern Health Regional Observatory (ORS PACA), 23, rue Stanislas Torrents, 13006 Marseilles, France. Tel: +33 4 96 10 28 78, fax: +33 4 96 10 28 99, e-mail: bouhnik@marseille.inserm.fr

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.