Objective: --To determine behavioral and demographic risk factors for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in central Africa.
Design: --Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: --Kigali, Rwanda.
Participants: --A representative sample of 1458 childbearing women aged 19 to 37 years who were recruited from outpatient prenatal and pediatric clinics at the only community hospital in the city.
Main outcome measure: --Antibodies to HIV assessed by enzyme immunoassay and confirmed by Western blot or indirect immunofluorescence.
Results: --The HIV seroprevalence was 32% overall. Infection rates were higher in women who were single, in those in steady relationships that began after 1981, and in the 33% of women reporting more than one lifetime sexual partner. Women in legal marriages or monogamous partnerships had lower rates of infection, but even low-risk women had prevalences on the order of 20%. History of venereal disease in the past 5 years, although the strongest risk factor in a multiple logistic analysis (odds ratio, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 2.0 to 3.7), was reported by only 30% of those infected. Having a male sexual partner who drank alcohol or who had higher income were significant risk factors for HIV infection in the multivariate analysis, but use of oral contraceptives and having an uncircumcised partner were not.
Conclusions: --The epidemic of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Rwanda has spread beyond high-risk groups to the general population of women without known risk factors. For most of these women, a steady male partner is the source of their HIV risk and therefore a vital target for intervention efforts.