Quantifying sexual exposure to HIV within an HIV-serodiscordant relationship: development of an algorithm

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Background:The risk of acquiring HIV from a single sexual contact varies enormously reflecting biological and behavioural characteristics of both infected and uninfected partners. Accurate information on HIV transmission risk is required to construct evidence-based risk reduction practices for individuals, to direct the provision of prevention strategies at the population level, and enable the definition, quantification and comparison of true exposure in individuals termed ‘exposed uninfected’ within clinical trials.Methods:Following a systematic review of current literature on HIV transmission estimates, an HIV risk score was developed, incorporating weighted risk factors into a Bernoulli mathematical model, allowing quantification of overall risk of HIV acquisition within HIV-serodiscordant partnerships.Results:The HIV risk score enumerates the relative risk of HIV acquisition from HIV-positive partners incorporating the type and frequency of specific sex acts, the index case HIV plasma viral load and stage of disease, and the presence of genital ulcer disease in either partner and pregnancy, HSV-2 seropositivity, and circumcision status (men only) in the HIV-negative partner.Conclusion:Key determinants of HIV exposure risk can be incorporated into a mathematical model in order to quantify individual relative risks of HIV acquisition. Such a model can facilitate comparisons within clinical trials of exposed uninfected individuals and facilitate interventions to reduce HIV transmission.

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