Gendered HIV Risk Patterns Among Polygynous Sero-Discordant Couples in Uganda

Cult Health Sex. 2011 Sep;13(8):933-44. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2011.590901.


Stable serodiscordant relationships and sexual concurrency are pathways that contribute to the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. However whether polygyny imparts the same risks as informal concurrent relationships remains an open research question. Using data collected at enrollment from a cohort study of sero-discordant couples, this analysis investigates how polygynous relationships differ from those involving only a single female spouse and whether men involved in polygynous partnerships are more likely to report HIV-risk behaviour than those in single spouse partnerships. Of 444 enrolled couples, 111 (25%) were polygynous and 333 (75%) were single-spouse partnerships. We found that polygynous men were more likely to report controlling sexual decision-making and to report any unprotected sex with unknown sero-status partner. After controlling for potential confounders, polygynous men were still more likely to report unprotected sex with an unknown sero-status partner. In this sample of sero-discordant couples we found indication of excess HIV-risk behaviour among men involved in polygynous relationships.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Safe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult