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Press Release

Jul 12, 2007
Study reveals marriage is leading source of new HIV infections

Calverton, MD - A new Macro International Inc./MEASURE DHS study authored by Vinod Mishra and others challenges widespread beliefs about which partner brings HIV into marriages. The new study finds that in 4 of the 11 countries studied, women were the infected partner in a majority of cases. Most HIV prevention efforts have been aimed at men. The study showed, however, a significant proportion of women’s infections occurred ten or more years into the marriage. Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya lead the percentage of female discordant infections, at 62%. But even in Lesotho, where the female-positive rate was lowest, female discordant HIV infections stood at 34%.

Mishra’s analysis on discordant HIV infections was presented at the HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting held June 16-19 in Kigali, Rwanda. The meeting, sponsored by PEPFAR, the Global Fund, UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank was attended by more than 1,500 HIV/AIDS program planners and implementers from around the world. David Wilson of the World Bank and David Apuuli of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Plenary speakers, pointed out that marital infections are the leading source of new infections in many countries. They emphasized the need to look carefully where new infections are occurring in each country.

During his presentation, Mishra highlighted the importance of reaching both men and women with prevention efforts. “We cannot afford to ignore the risk of female partners transmitting the HIV virus to their spouses, a very substantial source of new HIV infections,” Vinod warned. “This is not about laying blame; it’s about saving lives by preventing future infections.”