PloS one 2017 03 0212(3) e0172959 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0172959
Whereas the number of people newly infected by HIV is continuing to decline globally, the epidemic continues to expand in many parts of the world. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has matured in many countries, it is believed that the proportion of new infections occurring within couples has risen. Across countries, including Mozambique, a sizeable proportion of couples with HIV infection are discordant. A serodiscordant couple is a couple in which one partner has tested positive for HIV and the other has not. To describe the HIV serodiscordance among couples, a variety of association measures can be used. In this paper, we propose the serodiscordance measure (SDM) as a new alternative measure. Focus is on the specification of flexible marginal and random effects models for multivariate correlated binary data together with a full-likelihood estimation method, to adequately and directly describe the measure of interest. Fitting joint models allows examining the effects of different risk factors and other covariates on the probability to be HIV positive for each member within a couple, and estimating common effects for both probabilities more efficiently, while accounting for the association between their infection status. Moreover, the interpretation of the proposed association parameter SDM is more direct and relevant and effects of covariates can be studied as well. Results show that the HIV prevalence for the province where a couple was located as well as the union number for the woman within a couple are factors associated with HIV serodiscordance. These findings are important for the Mozambican public health policy makers to design national prevention plans, which include policies to stimulate regular HIV testing for couples as well as adolescents and young adults, prior to getting married or living together as a couple.