A low prevalence of HIV in sickle cell disease (SCD) patients has been reported in the literature though mechanisms for this are not understood.
HIV risk behaviors were compared between SCD cases and non-SCD controls using a self-administered audio computer-assisted self-interview. SCD cases were recruited from a multi-center SCD cohort established in Brazil; controls were recruited from SCD social contacts. Categorical variables were analyzed using Chi-Square or Fisher exact test. Continuous variables were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test.
There were 152 SCD cases and 154 age/location matched controls enrolled at three participating Brazilian centers during 2016-17. No significant differences in number of sexual partners (lifetime or previous 12 months), male-to-male sex partners or intravenous drug use were observed. Cases received more transfusions, surgeries, and acupuncture treatment.
Besides the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV, which is now exceedingly rare, SCD and non-SCD participants demonstrated similar HIV risk behaviors. Causes other than risk behaviors such as factors inherent to SCD pathophysiology may explain the reported low prevalence of HIV in SCD.