Risky sexual behavior among patients on long-term antiretroviral therapy: a prospective cohort study in urban and rural Uganda
While the effects of initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART) on risky sexual behavior have been extensively studied, less is known about the long-term changes in risky sexual behavior over time in resource-poor settings.
We conducted a secondary longitudinal analysis of one rural and one urban cohort of patients who initiated ART in Uganda between April 2004 and July 2007 followed up-to 2016. Data on sexual behavior were collected every 6 months for 3.5 years in individuals on ART ≥ 4 years (baseline) when a behavioral questionnaire was introduced. Risky sexual behavior was defined as sexual intercourse with ≥ 2 partners or inconsistent or no condom use in previous 6 months. We report characteristics overall, and by cohort. We used multivariable generalized estimating equations logistic regression to assess the effects of time on ART on risky sexual behavior.
Of 1012 participants, 402 (39.8%) were urban and 610 (60.2%) were rural residents. Mean age was 42.8 years (SD 8.5). Mean duration of follow-up was 51.3 months (SD 15.3), but longer for urban than rural participants (64.5 vs 36.4 months). Risky sexual behavior declined from 33.1% at baseline to 9.6% after 3.5 years of follow-up in the rural cohort (p ≤ 0.01 for the test of trend) and was unchanged from 9.7% at baseline to 9.9% after 3.5 years in the urban cohort (p = 0.51). Receiving care at a rural clinic (aOR 4.99, 95% CI 3.64-6.84); male gender (aOR 1.66, 95% CI 1.26-2.19) and being younger (aOR 5.60, 95% CI 3.80-8.25 for 18-34 years and aOR 2.34, 95% CI 1.74-3.14 for 35-44 years) were associated with increased odds of risky sexual behavior. Not being married (aOR 0.25; 95% CI 0.19-0.34), and longer time on ART (aOR 0.71 95% CI 0.67-0.76) were associated with reduced odds of risky sex.
We observed a decline in risky sexual behavior in rural people on long-term (≥ 4 years) ART. Rural, male and young individuals had higher odds of self-reported risky sexual behavior. ART programs should continue to emphasize risk reduction practices, especially among people receiving care in rural health facilities, males, younger individuals and those who are married.