High Burden of Previously Undiagnosed HIV Infections and Gaps in HIV Care Cascade for Conflict-Affected Female Sex Workers in Northern Uganda

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Goldenberg, S. M., Muzaaya, G., Akello, M., Braschel, M., Birungi, J., & Shannon, K. (2019). High burden of previously undiagnosed HIV infections and gaps in HIV care cascade for conflict-affected female sex workers in northern Uganda. International Journal of STD & AIDS, 30(3), 275–283. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956462418804658.

Date created: 
DOI: 10.1177/0956462418804658
Sex workers
Antiretroviral therapy
HIV diagnosis
Women living with HIV
Key populations

Given the disproportionate HIV burden faced by female sex workers FSWs and limited data regarding their engagement in the HIV cascade of care in conflict-affected settings, we characterized the cascade of care and examined associations with new HIV diagnoses and antiretroviral therapy (ART) use in a community-based cohort of FSWs in conflict-affected Northern Uganda. Data were collected via FSW/peer-led time-location sampling and outreach, interview-administered questionnaires, and voluntary HIV testing. Of 400 FSWs, 33.5% were living with HIV, of whom 33.6% were new/previously undiagnosed infections and 32.8% were on ART. Unstable housing and heavy alcohol/drug use were independently associated with increased odds of new HIV diagnoses, whereas exposure to condom demonstrations and number of lifetime pregnancies were negatively associated. In subanalysis among known HIV-positive women, age and time since diagnosis were associated with ART use, whereas sexually transmitted infections were negatively associated. Findings suggest the need for FSW-tailored, peer-based, and integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health programs to address gaps in HIV testing and treatment for FSWs in conflict-affected communities.

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Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)