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High HIV-1 prevalence, risk behaviours, and willingness to participate in HIV vaccine trials in fishing communities on Lake Victoria, Uganda

Noah Kiwanuka, Ali Ssetaala, Juliet Mpendo, Matthias Wambuzi, Annet Nanvubya, Simon Sigirenda, Annet Nalutaaya, Paul Kato, Leslie Nielsen, Pontiano Kaleebu, Josephine Nalusiba, Nelson K Sewankambo


Introduction: HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa are generalized, but high-risk subgroups exist within these epidemics. A recent study among fisher-folk communities (FFC) in Uganda showed high HIV prevalence (28.8%) and incidence (4.9/100 person-years). However, those findings may not reflect population-wide HIV rates in FFC since the study population was selected for high-risk behaviour.

Methods: Between September 2011 and March 2013, we conducted a community-based cohort study to determine the population representative HIV rates and willingness to participate (WTP) in hypothetical vaccine trials among FFC, Uganda. At baseline (September 2011-January 2012), a household enumeration census was done in eight fishing communities (one lakeshore and seven islands), after which a random sample of 2200 participants aged 18-49 years was selected from 5360 individuals. Interviewer-administered questionnaire data were collected on HIV risk behaviours and WTP, and venous blood was collected for HIV testing using rapid HIV tests with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (EIA) confirmation. Adjusted prevalence proportion ratios (adj.PPRs) of HIV prevalence were determined using log-binomial regression models.

Results: Overall baseline HIV prevalence was 26.7% and was higher in women than men (32.6% vs. 20.8%, p <0.0001). Prevalence was lower among fishermen (22.4%) than housewives (32.1%), farmers (33.1%) and bar/lodge/restaurant workers (37%). The adj.PPR of HIV was higher among women than men (adj.PPR = 1.50, 95%; 1.20, 1.87) and participants aged 30-39 years (adj.PPR = 1.40, 95%; 1.10, 1.79) and 40-49 years (adj.PPR = 1.41, 95%; 1.04, 1.92) compared to those aged 18-24 years. Other factors associated with HIV prevalence included low education, previous marriage, polygamous marriage, alcohol and marijuana use before sex. WTP in hypothetical vaccine trials was 89.3% and was higher in men than women (91.2% vs. 87.3%, p = 0.004) and among island communities compared to lakeshore ones (90.4% vs. 85.8%, p = 0.004).

Conclusions: The HIV prevalence in the general fisher-folk population in Uganda is similar to that observed in the ‘‘high-risk’’ fisher folk. FFC have very high levels of willingness to participate in future HIV vaccine trials.

Keywords: HIV-1; willingness to participate in HIV vaccine trials; fishing communities; Uganda

(Published: 22 July 2013)

Citation: Kiwanuka N et al. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2013, 16:18621 |

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Journal of the International AIDS Society | eISSN 1758-2652 | Editors-in-Chief: Susan Kippax, Kenneth Mayer and Papa Salif Sow 

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