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Assessment of HIV risk behaviors, practices and knowledge among people living with HIV in Bhutan, 2011

Introduction: A total of 217 HIV positive cases have been reported in Bhutan as of 2010. A descriptive study toassess the knowledge and behavioral practices among 116 of those persons living with HIV (PLHIV) was conductedin 2011.
Methods: Data on demographic characteristics, sexual behavior, alcohol consumption: mobility and HIVknowledge both before and after testing positive for HIV were collected. Responses regarding behavior before andafter HIV diagnosis were compared.
Results: Of 116 participants, 52.6% were males; a majority of male PLHIV (72.1%) belonged to salaried group of people while housewife represented 47.3% among female respondents. Fortythree percent of male and 5.5% of female participants reported having exchange sex and 52.5% of male and 41.8% of female participants reported having non-exchange sex partners before HIV diagnosis. The consistent condom use had significantly increased after HIV diagnosis among males with exchange (12% vs. 60%, p=.04) and non-exchange (13% vs. 100%, p<.001) partners. Eighty-four percent of male and 61.8% of female participants reported consuming alcohol before HIV diagnosis. Only one male respondent reported injection drug use before HIV. There was a decrease in incidence of sexually transmitted infection (56.9% vs. 31.9%) after HIV diagnosis. Forty-three percent of males had traveled abroad before HIV diagnosis; among those, 30.8% reported having exchange sex while abroad.
Conclusions: Our findings indicated that high-risk sexual behavior was common before HIV diagnosis and that sexual practices changed after diagnosis. Educational campaigns aimed at increasing HIV knowledge and safe sex, are critical to reduce HIV infections in Bhutan.
Keywords: Alcohol & drug use; HIV knowledge and HIV detection; PLHIV sexual behavior.
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