Similar to other Southern African countries, Swaziland has been severely affected by HIV, with over a quarter of its reproductive-age adults estimated to be living with the virus, equating to an estimate of 170,000 people living with HIV. The last several years have witnessed an increase in the understanding of the potential vulnerabilities among men who have sex with men (MSM) in neighbouring countries with similarly widespread HIV epidemics. To date, there are no data characterizing the burden of HIV and the HIV prevention, treatment and care needs of MSM in Swaziland. In 2011, 324 men who reported sex with another man in the last 12 months were accrued using respondent-driven sampling (RDS). Participants completed HIV testing using Swazi national guidelines as well as structured survey instruments administered by trained staff, including modules on demographics, individual-level behavioural and biological risk factors, social and structural characteristics and uptake of HIV services. Population and individual weights were computed separately for each variable with a data-smoothing algorithm. The weights were used to estimate RDS-adjusted univariate estimates with 95% bootstrapped confidence intervals (BCIs). Crude and RDS-adjusted bivariate and multivariate analyses were completed with HIV as the dependent variable. Overall, HIV prevalence was 17.6% (n=50/284), although it was strongly correlated with age in bivariate- [odds ratio (OR) 1.2, 95% BCI 1.15-1.21] and multivariate-adjusted analyses (adjusted OR 1.24, 95% BCI 1.14-1.35) for each additional year of age. Nearly, 70.8% (n=34/48) were unaware of their status of living with HIV. Condom use with all sexual partners and condom-compatible-lubricant use with men were reported by 1.3% (95% CI 0.0-9.7). Although the epidemic in Swaziland is driven by high-risk heterosexual transmission, the burden of HIV and the HIV prevention, treatment and care needs of MSM have been understudied. The data presented here suggest that these men have specific HIV acquisition and transmission risks that differ from those of other reproductive-age adults. The scale-up in HIV services over the past decade has likely had limited benefit for MSM, potentially resulting in a scenario where epidemics of HIV among MSM expand in the context of slowing epidemics in the general population, a reality observed in most of the world.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases