To estimate HIV prevalence and risk factors in population-based samples of female sex workers (FSW) and female voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) clients in Rwanda.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 800 FSW and 1,250 female VCT clients in Rwanda, which included interviewing and testing for HIV-1/2, HSV-2 and pregnancy, and BED-CEIA and Avidity Index (AI) to identify recent infections among HIV-infected women.
Prevalence of HIV-1, HSV-2, and pregnancy were 24% (95% CI: 21.0-27.0), 59.8% (56.4-63.2), and 7.6% (5.8-9.5) among FSW, and 12.8% (10.9-14.6), 43.2% (40.4-46.0), and 11.4% (9.7-13.3) among VCT clients, respectively. Thirty-five percent of FSW and 25% of VCT clients had never been HIV tested. Per national guidelines, 33% of newly HIV-diagnosed FSW and 36% of VCT clients were already eligible for ART based on CD4<350 cells/µl. Condom use at last sex was higher among FSW (74%) than VCT clients (12%). In age and district of residence-adjusted models, HIV-1 seropositivity was associated with HSV-2 co-infection; recent treatment for sexually transmitted infection (STI); genital symptoms; forced sex; imprisonment; widowhood; and alcohol consumption. Eleven percent of FSW and 12% of VCT clients had recently acquired HIV-1 per BED-CEIA and AI. HSV-2 infection and recent STI treatment were associated with recent HIV infection in both groups, and being married and vaginal cleansing were associated with recent infection before last sex among VCT clients.
This population-based survey reveals a high HIV prevalence and incidence among FSW and female VCT clients in Kigali, the scale of which is masked by the low general-population HIV prevalence in Rwanda. HIV/STI and family planning services should be strengthened.