December 17, 1997

Spread of HIV Infection in Married Monogamous Women in India

Author Affiliations

From the National AIDS Research Institute, Pune, India (Messrs Gangakhedkar and Divekar and Drs Gadkari and Mehendale), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md (Ms Shepherd and Drs Bentley, Bollinger, and Quinn), and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md (Dr Quinn).

JAMA. 1997;278(23):2090-2092. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550230066039

Context.  —A high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in female sex workers (FSWs) and men who attend sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics poses a risk for spread of infection to other populations.

Objective.  —To examine spread of HIV to a low-risk population by comparing prevalence of, and risk factors for, HIV and STDs in FSWs and non-FSWs.

Methods.  —Women attending STD clinics in Pune, India, were assessed for STDs and HIV from May 13, 1993, to July 11, 1996. Demographic and behavioral information was collected, and clinical and laboratory assessment was performed.

Main Outcome Measure.  —Prevalence and risk determinants of HIV infection.

Results.  —Of 916 women enrolled, 525 were FSWs and 391 were non-FSWs. Prevalence of HIV in FSWs and non-FSWs was 49.9% and 13.6%, respectively (P<.001). In multivariate analysis, inconsistent condom use and genital ulcer disease or genital warts were associated with prevalent HIV in FSWs. History of sexual contact with a partner with an STD was associated with HIV in non-FSWs.

Conclusions.  —Infection with HIV is increasing in non-FSWs, previously thought to be at low risk in India. Since history of sexual contact with their only sex partner was the only risk factor significantly associated with HIV infection, it is likely that these women are being infected by their spouses. This underscores the need for strengthening partner-notification strategies and counseling facilities in India.