Associations Between Khat Use and HIV Risk and Status Among Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center Clients in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Abstract

Objectives:

Ethiopia is 1 of 15 countries that account for nearly 75% of all people living with HIV. Khat use, a common practice in Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa, has gained attention as a potential risk factor for HIV. Our objective was to evaluate associations between khat use and demographic and risk-taking characteristics (alcohol use, sexual behavior), and also associations between HIV status and these characteristics among voluntary counseling and testing clients in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Methods:

This cross-sectional study was conducted among Pro Pride voluntary counseling and testing center clients, aged 18 to 49 years, from November 2009 to March 2010. All clients were approached, and 98.8% of these (684) completed a self-administered questionnaire. Associations between khat use, alcohol use, multiple sexual partners, and HIV status were assessed using logistic regression models.

Results:

Using khat in the past 90 days (current khat use) was significantly associated with being Muslim, being male, alcohol use, and having a greater number of sex partners in one's lifetime. The adjusted odds of current khat use was almost 7-fold higher in those having 4 or more sexual partners in their lifetime (adjusted odds ratio 6.89, 95% confidence interval 3.87, 12.25) as compared with those with 1 or none. HIV-positive status was significantly associated with age, employment, marital status, number of sex partners in one's lifetime, and khat use. Having used khat in one's lifetime, but not currently, past khat use, was associated with over a 2-fold increased adjusted odds (adjusted odds ratio 2.64, 95% confidence interval 1.13, 6.19) of being HIV-infected.

Conclusions:

Our findings highlight associations between current khat use and the modifiable factors of number of lifetime sexual partners and alcohol use. In addition, we observed the association between HIV status and past khat use after adjusting for age, marital status, and number of sex partners in one's lifetime.

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