The aim of the study is to compare sociodemographic characteristics, psychosocial factors, HIV knowledge and risk behaviors of people living with HIV (PLH) and their social network members (NMs) to inform HIV prevention programs that engage PLH as prevention educators in their communities. We compared baseline characteristics of PLH enrolled in an intervention to become HIV prevention Change Agents (CAs) (n = 458) and 602 NMs they recruited. CAs and NMs responded to questionnaires through a computer-driven interface with Audio Computer-Assisted Self Interview (ACASI) software. Although NMs scored higher on socio-economic status, self-esteem and general self-efficacy, they had lower HIV knowledge (AOR 1.5; 95% CI: 1.1–2.1), greater inconsistent condom use (AOR 3.2; 95% CI: 2.4–4.9), and recent experience as perpetrators of physical (AOR 2.5; 95% CI: 1.2–5.1) or sexual (AOR 4.1; 95% CI: 1.4–12.7) intimate partner violence; and as victims of physical (AOR 1.5; 95% CI: 1.0–2.3) or sexual (AOR 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3–3.8) forms of violence than CAs. Higher HIV knowledge and lower sexual risk behaviors among CAs suggest PLH’s potential as communicators of HIV prevention information to NMs. CAs’ training should also focus on improving self-esteem, general self-efficacy and social support to increase their potential effectiveness as HIV prevention educators and enhance their own overall health and well-being.
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