Geographical disparities in HIV prevalence and care among men who have sex with men in Malawi: results from a multisite cross-sectional survey

Andrea L. Wirtz, Gift Trapence, Dunker Kamba, Victor Gama, Rodney Chalera, Vincent Jumbe, Rosemary Kumwenda, Marriam Mangochi, Stephane Helleringer, Chris Beyrer, Stefan Baral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background Epidemiological assessment of geographical heterogeneity of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) is necessary to inform HIV prevention and care strategies in the more generalised HIV epidemics across sub-Saharan Africa, including Malawi. We aimed to measure the HIV prevalence, risks, and access to HIV care among MSM across multiple localities to better inform HIV programming for MSM in Malawi. Methods Between Aug 1, 2011, and Sept 13, 2014, we recruited MSM into cross-sectional research via respondent-driven sampling (RDS) in seven districts of Malawi. RDS and site weights were used to estimate national HIV prevalence and engagement in care and in multilevel regression models to identify correlates of prevalent HIV infection. The comparative prevalence ratio of HIV among MSM relative to adult men was calculated by use of direct age-stratification. Findings 2453 MSM were enrolled with a population HIV prevalence of 18·2% (95% CI 15·5–21·2), as low as 4·1% (2·2–7·6) in Mzuzu and as high as 24·5% (19·5–30·3) in Mulanje. The comparative HIV prevalence ratio was 2·52 when comparing MSM with the adult male population. Age-stratified HIV prevalence showed early onset of infection with 11·8% (95% CI 7·3–18·4) of MSM aged 18–19 years HIV infected. Factors positively associated with HIV infection included being aged 21–30 years and reporting female or transgender identity. Among HIV infected MSM, less than 1% reported ever being diagnosed with HIV infection (0·9%, 95% CI 0·4–2·5) and initiated antiretroviral treatment (0·2%, 0·2–0·3). Interpretation HIV disproportionately affects MSM in Malawi with disparities sustained across the HIV care continuum. These issues are geographically heterogeneous and begin among young MSM, supporting geographically focused and age-specific approaches to confidential HIV testing with linkage to HIV services. Funding Malawi Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS (DNHA), UNDP, UNFPA, UNAIDS, and UNICEF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e260-e269
JournalThe Lancet HIV
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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