Sexually transmitted infections 2016 8 17() pii 10.1136/sextrans-2015-052354
To determine whether, and how, sexual behaviour of HIV-negative individuals in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) changes upon learning their serostatus.
We systematically reviewed the published literature using EMBASE and Medline to search for publications between 2004 and 2014. We included studies that quantified behaviour change (condom use, number of sexual partners or sex acts) following an HIV test in HIV-negative adults in SSA, and extracted relevant data including study characteristics and measurement type.
From 2185 unique citations, n=14 studies representing 22 390 participants met our inclusion criteria. We did not pool data due to marked heterogeneity in study outcome measures. The proportion of participants reporting consistent condom use (n=6) post-testing ranged from 7.6% greater, to 10.6% fewer, while ‘no condom use’ (n=5) ranged from 40.0% less, to 0.7% more. Condom use in serodiscordant couples increased (n=3). Five studies measured the proportion reporting abstinence, finding an increase of 10.9% to a decrease of 5.3% post-testing. The post-testing change in the mean number of sex acts (n=3) ranged from a relative decrease of 15.7% to a relative increase of 9.4%. Two studies reported relative decreases in the mean number of sexual partners of 35.2% and 14.0%. Three studies examining serodiscordant primary relationships specifically all showed increases in extrarelational sex.
With the exception of serodiscordant couples, there is variable evidence that awareness of one’s serostatus leads to substantial changes in risk behaviour among HIV-negative individuals. Further research is needed to estimate the behavioural impact of learning one’s serostatus in SSA.