Background: There is controversy on the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and HIV infection. Some evidence claims higher SES is negatively associated with HIV infection while others report the reverse.
Objectives: To examine the association between SES and HIV infection in Uganda and to examine whether the SES-HIV relationship varies by gender, rural-urban place of residence, and time (2004-2005 and 2011) in Uganda.
Methods: Multilevel analysis was applied to 39,766 individual cases obtained in 887 clusters of Uganda HIV/AIDS Indicators Survey conducted in 2004-2005 and 2011.
Results: Household wealth is associated with increased vulnerability in the general population and in rural areas. Compared with no educational attainment, secondary or higher education is associated with reduced vulnerability to the risk of HIV infection by 37% in the general population. However, this effect was stronger in urban than rural areas. Besides individual-level factors, unobserved community factors too play an important role and account for 9% of unexplained variance after individual-level factors are considered.
Conclusion: Household wealth increases vulnerability but education reduces it. The social environment influences vulnerability to HIV infection independent of individual-level factors. HIV/AIDS awareness targeting sexual practices of wealthy individuals and those with primary-level educational attainment together with improving educational attainment and addressing contextual factors influencing vulnerability to HIV infection are necessary strategies to reduce HIV infections in Uganda.