Background: HIV is spread through structured sexual networks, which are influenced by migration patterns, but network-oriented studies of mobility and HIV risk behavior have been limited.
Objective: We present a comprehensive description and initial results from our Migration & HIV in Ghana (MHG) study in Agbogbloshie, an urban slum area within Accra, Ghana.
Methods: The MHG study was a population-based cross-sectional study of adults aged 18-49 in Agbogbloshie in 2012. We used a one-year retrospective relationship history calendar to collect egocentric network data on sexual partners as well as migration and short-term mobility, and tested for prevalent HIV-1/2 infection.
Results: HIV prevalence was 5.5%, with prevalence among women (7.2%) over twice that of men (2.8%). Three-quarters of residents were born outside the Greater Accra region, but had lived in Agbogbloshie an average of 10.7 years. Only 7% had moved housing structures within the past year. However, short-term mobility was common. Residents had an average of 7.3 overnight trips in the last year, with women reporting more travel than men. Thirty-seven percent of men and 9% of women reported more than one sexual partner in the last year.
Conclusions: Population-based surveys of migration and sexual risk behavior using relationship history calendars in low-resource settings can produce high quality data. Residents in Agbogbloshie are disproportionately affected by HIV, and have high levels of short-term mobility. HIV prevention interventions targeted to highly mobile populations in high prevalence settings may have far-reaching and long-term implications.