The aim of the study was to use population-based data from 689 adults to describe the socio-demographic, behavioural and biomedical correlates of HIV infection and aid identification of effective HIV control strategies for rural Zimbabwe. Dried blood spot and urine samples were collected for HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and participants were interviewed on socio-demographic characteristics, sexual behaviour and experience of STD symptoms. HIV seroprevalence was 23.3% and was higher in females, divorcees, widows, working men, estate residents, and respondents reporting histories of STD symptoms. Female HIV seroprevalence rises sharply at ages 16-25. A third of sexually-active adults had experienced STD-associated symptoms but there were delays in seeking treatment. Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and Trichomonas vaginalis are more common causes than syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia, and are strongly associated with HIV infection. Local programmes promoting safer sexual behaviour and fast and effective STD treatment among young women, divorcees and working men could reduce the extensive HIV transmission in rural communities.
International Journal of STD & AIDS (2001) vol. 12 no. 3, pp. 189-196 [doi:10.1258/0956462011917009]