Behavioural disinhibition in the general population during the antiretroviral therapy roll-out in Sub-Saharan Africa: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Research paper by Eva M EM Legemate, Jan A C JAC Hontelez, Caspar W N CWN Looman, Sake J SJ De Vlas

Indexed on: 28 Apr '17Published on: 28 Apr '17Published in: Tropical Medicine & International Health


Improved life expectancy and reduced transmission probabilities due to ART may result in behavioural disinhibition - i.e. an increase in sexual risk behaviour in response to a perceived lower risk of HIV. We examined trends in sexual risk behaviour in the general population of sub-Saharan African countries 1999 - 2015.We systematically reviewed scientific literature of sexual behaviour, and reviewed trends in Demographic and Health Surveys. A meta-analysis on four indicators of sexual risk behaviour was performed: unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, commercial sex, and prevalence of sexually transmitted infections.Only 2 peer-reviewed studies met our inclusion criteria, while our review of DHS data spanned 18 countries and 16 years (1999 - 2015). We found conflicting trends in sexual risk behaviour. Reported unprotected sex decreased consistently across the 18 countries, for both sexes. In contrast, reporting multiple partners was decreasing over the period 1999 to the mid-2000s, yet has been consistently increasing thereafter. Similar trends were found for reported sexually transmitted infections and commercial sex (men only).In conclusion, we found no clear evidence of behavioural disinhibition due to expanded access to ART in sub-Saharan Africa. Substantial increases in condom use coincided with increases in reported multiple partners, commercial sex, and sexually transmitted infections, especially during the period of ART scale-up. Further research is needed into how these changes might affect HIV transmission. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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