Concurrent sexual partnerships and HIV transmission in Khayelitsha, South Africa

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University of Cape Town

Concurrent partnerships - two or more partnerships that overlap in time - play a critical role in HIV transmission dynamics. By better understanding the epidemiological and socio-cultural role of multiple concurrent partnerships, primary behavior change approaches to HIV prevention can be more effective and appropriately targeted in sexually-transmitted, generalized epidemics such as in South Africa. This paper contributes to the growing body of knowledge about the role that concurrent sexual partnerships play as a risk factor for HIV infection. The first section reviews the literature on concurrent partnerships. The second section presents data on the frequency of concurrent sexual partnerships and correlates of such partnerships using a representative sample of adults in Khayelitsha. The analysis found that 17% of adults in married or regular partnerships reported concurrency, with men reporting significantly more concurrency. Engaging in concurrency was correlated with being less religious and with knowledge that your primary partner also had concurrent partners.