HIV and sexual behaviour amongst widows and widowers in Manicaland, Zimbabwe, 1998/2003

Benjamin A. Lopman, Imperial College
Constance Nyamukapa, Biomedical Research & Training Institute
Costa Mundandi, Biomedical Research & Training Institute
Simon Gregson, Imperial College

This paper describes the patterns of HIV and the sexual behaviour of widow(er)s in Zimbabwe. A population cohort of approximately 10,000 in Manicaland was followed-up beginning in 1998. Information on marital status and marital history was collected from each individual and HIV antibody testing was performed. 28 (0.9%) men and 433 (8.8%) women reported to be widowed at the time of follow-up (2001-03). HIV prevalence was markedly higher in widow(er)s compared to those still married – an effect still marked after controlling for age (OR = 3.7 for males, 4.6 for females). When widow(er)s resumed sexual activity, men were, on average 14.7 years older than their partners and 69% of women reported that their last partner was married to someone other than themselves. Thus, the effect of high HIV prevalence among widows combined with their forming of risky partnerships once they resume sexual activity may provide networks for disease transmission.

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Presented in Session 116: Determinants of STDs including HIV/AIDS