Mobility is Associated with Higher-risk Sexual Partnerships Among Both Men and Women in Co-resident Couples in Rural Kenya and Uganda: A Longitudinal Cohort Study

AIDS Behav. 2022 Nov 1. doi: 10.1007/s10461-022-03878-0. Online ahead of print.


Population mobility is associated with higher-risk sexual behaviors in sub-Saharan Africa and is a key driver of the HIV epidemic. We conducted a longitudinal cohort study to estimate associations between recent mobility (overnight travel away from home in past six months) or migration (changes of residence over defined geopolitical boundaries) and higher-risk sexual behavior among co-resident couples (240 couples aged ≥ 16) from 12 rural communities in Kenya and Uganda. Data on concurrent mobility and sexual risk behaviors were collected every 6-months between 2015 and 2020. We used sex-pooled and sex-stratified multilevel models to estimate associations between couple mobility configurations (neither partner mobile, male mobile/female not mobile, female mobile/male not mobile, both mobile) and the odds of higher-risk (casual, commercial sex worker/client, one night stand, inherited partner, stranger) and concurrent sexual partnerships based on who was mobile. On average across all time points and subjects, mobile women were more likely than non-mobile women to have a higher-risk partner; similarly, mobile men were more likely than non-mobile men to report a higher-risk partnership. Men with work-related mobility versus not had higher odds of higher-risk partnerships. Women with work-related mobility versus not had higher odds of higher-risk partnerships. Couples where both members were mobile versus neither had greater odds of higher-risk partnerships. In analyses using 6-month lagged versions of key predictors, migration events of men, but not women, preceded higher-risk partnerships. Findings demonstrate HIV risks for men and women associated with mobility and the need for prevention approaches attentive to the risk-enhancing contexts of mobility.

Keywords: Higher-risk sexual partnerships; Kenya: Uganda; Mobility; couples.