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Partnerships and sexual behaviour in rural South Africa in the era of HIV treatment

25th September 2013 3pm, University of Southampton 58/1007

Nuala McGrath, University of Southampton

Diagnosed HIV-positive people form a large sub-population in South Africa, one that will continue to increase due to the availability of public antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV treatment can profoundly influence relationships, sexuality and sexual behaviour although it is not yet clear to what extent ART will impact on sexual behaviour and HIV transmission. There is therefore a pressing need to monitor trends in sexual risk behaviours. To date few studies have examined the impact of treatment on sexual behaviour patterns in African populations. My programme of research funded by the Wellcome Trust, aims to investigate the relationships between partnership, cohabitation, sexual behaviours and HIV risk in South Africa; and, to measure the impact of ART on these factors. In South Africa, a complex set of historical, political, social, cultural and economic processes have resulted in high levels of migration, union instability, extra-marital births, concurrent relationships and HIV prevalence. My research project uses 10 years of longitudinal population-based data on sexual behaviour, partnership and HIV, complimented by new data collection in migrant partners and an ART clinical cohort.