Mobility has long been associated with high HIV prevalence. We sought to assess sex differences in the relationship between mobility and risk for HIV infection among married couples in the fishing communities.
METHODS: We conducted 1090 gender-matched interviews and rapid HIV testing with 545 couples proportionally representing all the different sizes of the fish-landing beaches in Kisumu County. We contacted a random sample of fishermen as our index participants and asked them to enroll in the study together with their spouses. The consenting couples were separated into different private rooms for concurrent interviews and thereafter reunited for couple rapid HIV counselling and testing.
In addition to socio-economic and behavioural data, we collected information on overnight travels and divided couples in 4 groups as follows both partners not mobile, both partners mobile, only woman mobile, and only man mobile. Other than descriptive statistics, we used X(2) and U tests to compare groups of variables and multivariate logistic regression to measure association between mobility and HIV infection.
RESULTS: We found significant differences in the number of trips women travelled in the preceding month (mean 4.6, SD 7.1) compared to men (mean 3.3, SD 4.9; p<0.01) and when the women did travel, they were more likely to spend more days away from home than their male partners (mean 5.2 [SD 7.2] versus 3.4 SD 5.6; p = 0.01). With an HIV prevalence of 22.7% in women compared to 20.9% among men, mobile women who had non-mobile spouses had 2.1 times the likelihood of HIV infection compared to individuals in couples where both partners were non-mobile.
CONCLUSION: The mobility of fishermen's spouses is associated with HIV infection that is not evident among fishermen themselves. Therefore, interventions in this community could be a combination of sex-specific programming that targets women and combined programming for couples.