Sexual behaviour, changes in sexual behaviour and associated factors among women at high risk of HIV participating in feasibility studies for prevention trials in Tanzania

Diana Faini , Claudia Hanson, Kathy Baisley, Saidi Kapiga, Richard Hayes
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Risk reduction towards safer behaviour is promoted after enrolment in HIV prevention trials. We evaluated sexual behaviour, changes in sexual behaviour and factors associated with risky behaviour after one-year of follow-up among women enrolled in HIV prevention trials in Northern Tanzania.


Self-reported information from 1378 HIV-negative women aged 18–44 enrolled in microbicide and vaccine feasibility studies between 2008–2010,was used to assess changes in behaviour during a 12-month follow-up period. Logistic regression with random intercepts was used to estimate odds ratios for trends in each behaviour over time. A behavioural risk score was derived from coefficients of three behavioural variables in a Poisson regression model for HIV incidence and thereafter, dichotomized to risky vs less-risky behaviour. Logistic regression was then used to identify factors associated with risky behaviour at 12 months.


At baseline, 22% reported multiple partners, 28% were involved in transactional sex and only 22% consistently used condoms with non-regular partners. The proportion of women reporting multiple partners, transactional sex and high-risk sex practices reduced at each 3-monthly visit (33%, 43% and 47% reduction in odds per visit respectively, p for linear trend <0.001 for all), however, there was no evidence of a change in the proportion of women consistently using condoms with non-regular partners (p = 0.22). Having riskier behaviours at baseline, being younger than 16 years at sexual debut, having multiple partners, selling sex and excessive alcohol intake at baseline were strongly associated with increased odds of risky sexual behaviour after 12 months (p<0.005 for all).


An overall reduction in risky behaviours over time was observed in HIV prevention cohorts. Risk reduction counselling was associated with decreased risk behaviour but was insufficient to change behaviours of all those at highest risk. Biological HIV prevention interventions such as PrEP for individuals at highest risk, should complement risk reduction counselling so as to minimize HIV acquisition risk.