AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 710–716 | Cite as

Antiretroviral Treatment and Sexual Risk Behavior in South Africa

  • Kathryn Risher
  • Thomas Rehle
  • Leickness Simbayi
  • Olive Shisana
  • David D. Celentano
Original Paper


The sexual behavior of individuals living with HIV determines the onward transmission of HIV. With the understanding that antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents transmission of HIV, the sexual behaviors of the individuals not on ART with unsuppressed viral loads becomes of the greatest importance in elucidating transmission. We assessed the association between being on ART and sexual risk behavior among those living with HIV in a nationally representative population-based cross-sectional survey of households in South Africa that was conducted in 2012. Of 2237 adults (aged 15–49) who tested HIV-seropositive, 667 (29.8 %) had detectable antiretroviral drugs in their blood specimens. Among males, 77.7 % of those on ART reported having had sex in the past year contrasted with 88.4 % of those not on ART (p = 0.001); among females, 72.2 % of those on ART reported having had sex in the past year while 80.3 % of those not on ART did (p < 0.001). For males and females, the odds of reporting consistent condom use and condom use at last sex were statistically significantly higher for individuals on ART compared to those not on ART (males: consistent condom use aOR 2.8, 95 % CI 1.6–4.9, condom use at last sex aOR 2.6, 95 % CI 1.5–4.6; females: consistent condom use aOR 2.3, 95 % CI 1.7–3.1, condom use at last sex aOR 2.3, 95 % CI 1.7–3.1), while there were no statistically significant differences in odds of reporting multiple sexual partners in the past year. In this nationally representative population-based survey of South African adults, we found evidence of less risky sexual risk behavior among people living with HIV on ART compared to those not on ART.


Antiretroviral therapy People living with HIV South Africa Sexual behavior 



This article has been supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the terms of 3U2GGH000570. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC. We also acknowledge the John Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research (1P30AI094189) and the National Institutes of Health (T32AI102623).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn Risher
    • 1
  • Thomas Rehle
    • 2
    • 3
  • Leickness Simbayi
    • 2
    • 4
  • Olive Shisana
    • 2
    • 4
  • David D. Celentano
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Human Sciences Research CouncilCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.School of Public Health and Family MedicineUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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