Sexual Behaviors and HIV Status: A Population-Based Study among Older Adults in Rural South Africa

Rosenberg, M.S., Gómez-Olivé, F.X., Rohr, J.K., et al

This study examined HIV risk behaviors among 5,059 adults over age 40 in South Africa, using data from the Health and Aging in Africa: Longitudinal Studies of INDEPTH Communities (HAALSI) study. The study showed an HIV prevalence of 23 percent, with no differences by sex. Participants reported multiple sexual risk behaviors; 67 percent reported having multiple sexual partners in their lifetime, and 57 percent had at least one sexual partner in the last two years. Three-quarters of recently sexually active participants reported never using condoms with their most recent partner. Men reported sexual activity at higher rates than women at older ages (52% versus 17% at age 80). HIV-positive individuals who knew their status were most likely to use condoms, followed by HIV-positive individuals unaware of their status, and then by HIV-negative individuals. Twelve percent of participants reported having had casual sex; HIV-negative individuals were least likely to do so (9%), compared to HIV-positive participants who were aware of their status (29%) and those who were unaware (18%). HIV-negative individuals were least likely to report multiple partners (8%); 9 percent of HIV-positive unaware individuals and 13 percent of status-aware individuals reported multiple partners. The authors concluded that adults over age 40 face significant HIV acquisition risk and require targeted prevention interventions.

January 30, 2017
Year of publication
Resource types
Journal and research articles
HIV risk behavior, South Africa, older people, HIV prevention interventions, HIV prevention, risky sexual behavior, older adults

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