High HIV Prevalence Among a High-Risk Subgroup of Women Attending Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinics in Pune, India

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Objective:To investigate changes over a decade in prevalence and correlates of HIV among high-risk women attending sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics in Pune, India, who deny a history of commercial sex work (CSW).Design:Cross-sectional.Methods:From 1993 to 2002, 2376 women attending 3 STI clinics in Pune were offered HIV screening. Women who denied CSW were included (n = 1020).Results:Of 1020 women, 21% were HIV infected. The annual HIV prevalence increased from 14% in 1993 to 29% in 2001-2002 (P < 0.001). The change in HIV prevalence over time was paralleled by changes in clinic visitor characteristics; in later periods, women were older, more often employed, less likely to be currently married, and more likely to report condom use. In multivariate analysis, factors independently associated with HIV were calendar period (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.9 for 1997-1999 vs. 1993-1996; 95% CI, 1.2-3.0; AOR, 2.3 for 2000-2002 vs. 1993-1996; 95% CI, 1.5-3.6), lack of formal education (AOR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.4-2.9), having been widowed (AOR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.6-6.1), current employment (AOR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.6), and genital ulcer disease on examination (AOR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.7).Conclusions:Women attending STI clinics in India who deny a history of CSW represent a small, hidden subgroup, likely put at risk for HIV because of high-risk behavior of their male partners, generally their husbands. Educational and awareness efforts that have targeted other subgroups in India (men and CSWs) should also focus on these hard-to-reach women. Risk reduction in this subgroup of Indian women would also be expected to reduce perinatal infections in India.

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