The impact of repeat HIV testing on risky sexual behavior: evidence from a randomized controlled trial in Malawi
A significant proportion of HIV-positive adults in sub-Saharan Africa are in serodiscordant relationships. Identification of such serodiscordant couples through couple HIV testing and counseling (HTC) is thought to promote safe sexual behavior and reduce the probability of within couple seroconversion. However, it is possible HTC benefits are not sustained over time and therefore repeated HTC may be more effective at preventing seroconversion than one time HTC. We tested this theory in Zomba, Malawi by randomly assigning 170 serodiscordant couples to receive repeated HTC and 167 serodiscordant couples to receive one time HTC upon study enrollment (control group). We used linear probability models and probit model with couple fixed effects to assess the impact of the intervention on risky sexual behavior. At one-year follow-up, we found that couples that received repeated HTC reported significantly more condom use. However, we found no difference in rate of seroconversion between groups, nor did we find differences in subjective expectations about seroconversion or false beliefs about HIV, two expected pathways of behavior change. We conclude that repeated HTC may promote safe sexual behavior, but this result should be interpreted with caution, as it is inconsistent with the result from biological and subjective outcomes.
Journal of AIDS and Clinical Research
Open Access article; © 2016 Delavande A, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.