PloS one 2017 04 0512(4) e0174677 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0174677
While sub-Saharan African migrants are the second largest group affected by HIV in Europe, sound HIV prevalence estimates based on representative samples of these heterogeneous communities are lacking. Such data are needed to inform prevention and public health policy.
This community-based, cross-sectional study combined oral fluid HIV testing with an electronic behavioral survey. Adopting a two-stage time location sampling HIV prevalence estimates for a representative sample of adult sub-Saharan African migrants in Antwerp, Belgium were obtained. Sample proportions and estimated adjusted population proportions were calculated for all variables. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis explored factors independently associated with HIV infection.
Between December 2013 and October 2014, 744 sub-Saharan African migrants were included (37% women). A substantial proportion was socially, legally and economically vulnerable: 21% were probably of undocumented status, 63% had financial problems in the last year and 9% lacked stable housing. Sexual networks were mostly African and crossed national borders, i.e. sexual encounters during travels within Europa and Africa. Concurrency is common, 34% of those in a stable relationship had a partner on the side in the last year. HIV prevalence was 5.9%(95%CI:3.4%-10.1%) among women and 4.2% (95%CI:1.6%-10.6%) among men. Although high lifetime HIV testing was reported at community level (73%), 65.2% (CI95%:32.4%-88.0%) of sub-Saharan African migrants were possibly undiagnosed. Being 45 years or older, unprotected sex when travelling within Europe in the last year, high intentions to use condoms, being unaware of their last sexual partners’ HIV status, recent HIV testing and not having encountered partner violence in the last year were independently associated with HIV infection in multivariable logical regression. In univariable analysis, HIV infection was additionally associated to unemployment.
This is the first HIV prevalence study among adult sub-Saharan African migrants resettling in a European city based on a representative sample. HIV prevalence was high and could potentially increase further due to the high number of people with an undiagnosed HIV infection, social vulnerability, high levels of concurrency and mainly African sexual networks. Given this population’s mobility, an aligned European combination prevention approach addressing these determinants is urgently needed.