Objective: To measure prevalence and model incidence of HIV infection.
Setting: 2013 consecutive pregnant women attending public sector antenatal clinics in 1997 in Hlabisa health district, South Africa. Historical seroprevalence data, 1992-1995.
Methods: Serum remaining from syphilis testing was tested anonymously for antibodies to HIV to determine seroprevalence. Two models, allowing for differential mortality between HIV-positive and HIV-negative people, were used. The first used serial seroprevalence data to estimate trends in annual incidence. The second, a maximum likelihood model, took account of changing force of infection and age-dependent risk of infection, to estimate age-specific HIV incidence in 1997. Multiple logistic regression provided adjusted odds ratios (OR) for risk factors for prevalent HIV infection.
Results: Estimated annual HIV incidence increased from 4% in 1992/1993 to 10% in 1996/1997. In 1997, highest age-specific incidence was 16% among women aged between 20 and 24 years. In 1997, overall prevalence was 26% (95% confidence interval [CI], 24%-28%) and at 34% was highest among women aged between 20 and 24 years. Young age (<30 years; odds ratio [OR], 2.1; p = .001), unmarried status (OR 2.2; p = .001) and living in less remote parts of the district (OR 1.5; p = .002) were associated with HIV prevalence in univariate analysis. Associations were less strong in multivariate analysis. Partner's migration status was not associated with HIV infection. Substantial heterogeneity of HIV prevalence by clinic was observed (range 17%-31%; test for trend, p = .001).
Conclusions: This community is experiencing an explosive HIV epidemic. Young, single women in the more developed parts of the district would form an appropriate cohort to test, and benefit from, interventions such as vaginal microbicides and HIV vaccines.