The purpose of the report is to summarize the Reference Group recommendations, to explain the specific procedures the MEASURE DHS project uses to calculate the standard indicators, to present the data on concurrency available at the present time, and to discuss some of the challenges and limitations.
It is possible to measure the three recommended indicators in Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and AIDS Indicator Surveys (AIS) with minor alterations of the standard questionnaires; however, there are challenges to collect accurate and complete data as well as limitations to their interpretation.
Five countries have collected and released data on concurrent sexual partnerships: Congo Brazzaville, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Challenges in data collection include possible under-reporting of concurrency due either to a reluctance of respondents to reveal pre-marital or extra-marital sexual partners or to recall errors. Tabulation of the concurrency indicators is exceedingly complex, and requires some assumptions to be taken. Finally, although the data collected in DHS and AIS surveys can estimate the national prevalence of concurrent sexual partnerships, the data have limited value in analyzing the association between concurrency and HIV transmission. Low numbers of cases of women who report having concurrent sexual partners in DHS and AIS surveys, and the fact that the surveys use a cross-sectional, population-based design limits the analytical value of the concurrency data they collect.