Solomon, H., Moraes, A. N., Williams, D. B., Fotso, A. S., Duong, Y. T., Ndongmo, C. B., Voetsch, A. C., Patel, H., Lupoli, K., McAuley, J. B., Mulundu, G., Kasongo, W., & Mulenga, L. (2020).
PloS one, 15(7), e0236501. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236501
Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate HIV prevalence, active syphilis prevalence, and correlates of co-infection with HIV in Zambia, among recently sexually active individuals aged 15 to 59 years old.
Methods: We used data from the 2016 Zambia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZAMPHIA), a national household survey that included biomarker testing for HIV and syphilis. Chembio DPP® Syphilis Screen and Confirm Assay was used to distinguish between active and older syphilis infections. This is the first time Chembio DPP® has been used in a national survey. Log-binominal modelling was utilized to understand the risk of acquiring HIV/active syphilis co-infection using select socio-demographic and sexual behavior variables. Multivariable analysis compared those with co-infection and those with no infection. All reported results account for the complex survey design and are weighted.
Results: A total of 19,114 individuals aged 15-59 years responded to the individual interview and had a valid syphilis and/or HIV test. The prevalence for those sexually active in the 12 months preceding ZAMPHIA 2016 was 3.5% and 13% for active syphilis and HIV, respectively. The prevalence of HIV/active syphilis co-infection was 1.5%. Factors associated with higher prevalence of co-infection versus no infection among females included, but were not limited to, those living in urban areas (adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) = 3.0, 95% CI = 1.8, 4.8), those had sexual intercourse before age 15 years (aPR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.1, 2.9), and those who had two or more sexual partners in the 12 months preceding the survey (aPR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.6, 4.7).
Conclusion: These findings show high prevalence for both mono-infection with HIV and syphilis, as well as co-infection with HIV/active syphilis in Zambia. There is a need for better screening and partner services, particularly among those engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors (e.g., engaging in transactional sex).