Among PLWHAs sexually active in the last month, 86% in Kenya and 96% in Malawi reported their spouse or cohabiting partner as their most recent partner. In multivariate analysis of being sexually active in the past month, Kenyan women residing in rural areas [adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 0.18; CI: 0.07, 0.49] and Kenyan men aware of their HIV status (AOR: 0.17; CI: 0.06, 0.49) were significantly less likely to be sexually active (Table 2). Also in multivariate analysis, married or cohabiting HIV-infected participants were significantly more likely to be sexually active as compared with never married participants in Kenya (AOR: 36.49; CI: 13.55, 98.27) as well as in Malawi (AOR: 13.40; CI: 3.62, 49.65). In addition, in Kenya, widowed and divorced PLWHAs were significantly more likely to be sexually active than never married PLWHAs (AOR: 5.96; CI: 1.59, 22.39).
Of the PLWHAs whose last intercourse was with their spouse or cohabiting partner, 3% in Kenya and 6% in Malawi used a condom at their last intercourse. In multivariate analysis of condom use at last sexual encounter, Kenyan PLWHAs who were married or had cohabiting partners (AOR: 0.04; CI: 0.01, 0.13) or those who were widowed or divorced (AOR: 0.10; CI: 0.01, 0.89) were less likely to use condom at last sexual encounter (Table 3). In Malawi, PLWHAs who were married or living with a partner (AOR: 0.04; CI: 0.01, 0.18) were significantly less likely to use a condom at last sexual intercourse.
Overall, 20 and 16% of PLWHAs in Kenya and Malawi, respectively, were aware of their HIV status. Among those tested prior to the survey, 89% in Kenya and 87% in Malawi reported receiving their test results. In Kenya and Malawi, among HIV-infected persons not aware of their status, 64 and 86% knew a place to obtain an HIV test, respectively. In Kenya, 72% of PLWHAs believed that they were at no or small risk of acquiring HIV (data not available for Malawi). In Kenya, PLWHAs with at least secondary education (AOR: 2.50; CI: 1.33, 4.68) were significantly more likely to be aware of their HIV status (Table 4).
Thirty-three percent and 66% of HIV-infected women in Kenya and Malawi, respectively, had received HIV/AIDS information at last pregnancy from a health worker (Table 1). In Malawi, only 14% were tested for HIV at their last pregnancy. Fifty-four percent of HIV-infected women in Kenya and 40% in Malawi reported that their last child was either unplanned or unwanted. Overall contraceptive use was low with 26% of HIV-infected women in Kenya and 19% in Malawi using modern contraceptives. Of the nearly three-quarters of HIV-infected women who did not want a child ever or in the next 2 years, less than one-third in Kenya and less than one-fifth in Malawi were using modern contraceptives.
In multivariate analysis, HIV-infected women in Kenya who did not desire more children (AOR: 3.73; CI: 1.45, 9.64) were significantly more likely to be using modern contraceptives as compared with those who wanted a child within 2 years (Table 5). In Malawi, HIV-infected women who had three to five living children (AOR: 3.84; CI: 1.69, 8.72) or those who had more than five living children (AOR: 7.87; CI: 2.62, 23.62) were significantly more likely to be using modern contraceptives.
Our results from Kenya and Malawi demonstrate the urgent need to improve HIV testing uptake, which is a necessary first step to access prevention, care and treatment services. Over 80% of PLWHAs in Kenya and Malawi were unaware of their HIV status. Because the majority of PLWHAs who were not aware of their status already knew of a place to obtain a HIV test and, in Kenya, perceived themselves to be at low-risk of HIV acquisition , HIV program planners may need to implement innovative approaches to increase utilization of HIV testing services.
Several testing approaches have been associated with high uptake in other countries such as home-based HIV testing and routine HIV testing (RHT) in clinical facilities [22–25]. In Bushenyi district of Uganda, a home-based VCT program started in 2005 increased knowledge of HIV status from less than 10 to 84% in less than a year . In another study in rural south-western Uganda, in which blood for HIV testing was collected at participant's home, home-delivery of HIV testing results was associated with a two-to-five-fold increase in HIV test uptake than that observed when participants had to visit sites to obtain test results . In 2004, Botswana introduced RHT, which has rapidly improved HIV test uptake (from 36/1000 persons in 2004 to 93/1000 persons in 2005) and since the start of the program, the proportion of patients starting ART with CD4 cell counts of 100 cells/μl or less has decreased .
We found that one-third of HIV-infected women in Kenya and two-thirds in Malawi had received information on HIV/AIDS in their last pregnancy. Of the pregnant women, about 88% in Kenya and 93% in Malawi receive antenatal care from medical professionals [18,19]; the majority receive care from nurse/mid-wife, who should be trained to provide HIV testing and counseling along with antenatal care.
We found that being married or having a cohabiting partner was strongly associated with sexual activity and lack of condom use, with over 90% of last sexual acts being unprotected. Of all married or cohabiting HIV-infected persons, 50% in Kenya and 41% in Malawi have an HIV-negative spouse [18,19], highlighting the importance of ensuring that couples receive HIV prevention programs. Although it may be challenging to design prevention strategies for discordant couples , they represent a significant group as most new infections in sub-Saharan Africa occur in discordant couples [29,30]. A study in Uganda found that disclosure of status to partners promoted safer sex and increased care-seeking behavior . Studies in discordant couples have reported increased condom use and safer sexual behavior with male-focused or joint couple counseling [32,33].
Our findings underscore the need for integrating family planning services with HIV services. There was a large unmet need for temporary and permanent contraceptive methods. Family planning services should be tailored to the specific requirements of HIV-infected persons and emphasize the need for barrier contraceptives in discordant couples.
Our findings have several important limitations. First, these findings reflect the situation in Kenya in 2003 and in Malawi in 2003–2004. Since that time, there has been a large scale-up of HIV prevention, care and treatment services in part due to increased support from the GFATM, PEPFAR and other donors. In Kenya, the number of VCT sites has increased from three in 2000 to 680 in 2005 . Second, because population-survey data are self-reported, it may be affected by social desirability bias. Participants may underreport risky sexual behaviors and may not be comfortable disclosing if they have been tested for HIV. The results may also be biased due to nonresponse in the survey (refusal to participate in the survey and refusal to participate in HIV testing). We may have underestimated the effect of knowledge of HIV status, as we assumed that PLWHAs who had received test results in the past were aware of their HIV infection. It is possible that they were tested prior to seroconversion. Because the survey is cross-sectional, the temporal sequence between independent and dependent variables in the regression models cannot be determined. The survey did not collect information on whether the participants were currently sick or incapacitated due to HIV disease progression, an important confounder for several possible associations in our regression models. Finally, the survey was not adequately powered for this subset analysis of HIV-infected persons, which led to small cell sizes and wide CIs.
In summary, the most recent publicly available population-based data for Kenya and Malawi suggest that most HIV-infected persons are unaware of their HIV infection, do not use condoms and presumably are not receiving appropriate HIV-related care and treatment services. To reduce the risk of transmission from HIV-infected persons, not only does HIV testing coverage need to increase, but also testing and counseling services that incorporate prevention strategies with proven efficacy for couples, especially married or cohabiting discordant couples, need to be promoted [35,36]. An urgent need is to reduce risk behaviors within discordant couples and the design of these prevention interventions should be a high priority. It is likely that the situation is similar in many other countries . Implementation of comprehensive positive prevention interventions could have a large impact on HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa.
A.A., R.W.S. and R.E.B. designed the concept and the analytical plan. L.H.M., J.N.M., K.K. and J.M.A. participated in data collection. All authors participated in data analysis, interpretation of results and preparation of article. All authors have approved the final version.
The authors thank all participants in Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) and Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS). The authors are also grateful to the Ministry of Health of Kenya and Malawi and to KDHS and MDHS staff who conducted data collection, laboratory testing and data management.
Support for this analysis was provided by the Epidemic Intelligence Service Program in Atlanta, USA and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Atlanta, USA and Nairobi, Kenya.
The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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