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Linking sexual and reproductive health and HIV interventions: a systematic review

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      BackgroundThe international community agrees that the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved without ensuring universal access to both sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. Recently, there has been increasing awareness and discussion of the possible benefits of linkages between SRH and HIV programmes at the policy, systems and service delivery levels. However, the evidence for the efficacy of these linkages has not been systematically assessed.MethodsWe conducted a systematic review of the evidence for interventions linking SRH and HIV. Structured methods were employed for searching, screening and data extraction. Studies from 1990 to 2007 reporting pre-post or multi-arm evaluation data from SRH-HIV linkage interventions were included. Study design rigour was scored on a nine-point scale. Unpublished programme reports were gathered as "promising practices".ResultsOf more than 50,000 citations identified, 185 studies were included in the review and 35 were analyzed. These studies had heterogeneous interventions, populations, objectives, study designs, rigour and measured outcomes. SRH-HIV linkage interventions were generally considered beneficial and feasible. The majority of studies showed improvements in all outcomes measured. While there were some mixed results, there were very few negative findings. Generally, positive effects were shown for key outcomes, including HIV incidence, sexually transmitted infection incidence, condom use, contraceptive use, uptake of HIV testing and quality of services. Promising practices (n = 23) tended to evaluate more recent and more comprehensive programmes. Factors promoting effective linkages included stakeholder involvement, capacity building, positive staff attitudes, non-stigmatizing services, and engagement of key populations.ConclusionsExisting evidence provides support for linkages, although significant gaps in the literature remain. Policy makers, programme managers and researchers should continue to advocate for, support, implement and rigorously evaluate SRH and HIV linkages at the policy, systems and service levels.

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      Most cited references 41

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      Antenatal couple counseling increases uptake of interventions to prevent HIV-1 transmission.

      To determine effect of partner involvement and couple counseling on uptake of interventions to prevent HIV-1 transmission, women attending a Nairobi antenatal clinic were encouraged to return with partners for voluntary HIV-1 counseling and testing (VCT) and offered individual or couple posttest counseling. Nevirapine was provided to HIV-1-seropositive women and condoms distributed to all participants. Among 2104 women accepting testing, 308 (15%) had partners participate in VCT, of whom 116 (38%) were couple counseled. Thirty-two (10%) of 314 HIV-1-seropositive women came with partners for VCT; these women were 3-fold more likely to return for nevirapine (P = 0.02) and to report administering nevirapine at delivery (P = 0.009). Nevirapine use was reported by 88% of HIV-infected women who were couple counseled, 67% whose partners came but were not couple counseled, and 45%whose partners did not present for VCT (P for trend = 0.006). HIV-1-seropositive women receiving couple counseling were 5-fold more likely to avoid breast-feeding (P = 0.03) compared with those counseled individually. Partner notification of HIV-1-positive results was reported by 138 women (64%) and was associated with 4-fold greater likelihood of condom use (P = 0.004). Partner participation in VCT and couple counseling increased uptake of nevirapine and formula feeding. Antenatal couple counseling may be a useful strategy to promote HIV-1 prevention interventions.
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        Sex and HIV education programs: their impact on sexual behaviors of young people throughout the world.

        This paper reviews 83 studies that measure the impact of curriculum-based sex and HIV education programs on sexual behavior and mediating factors among youth under 25 years anywhere in the world. Two thirds of the programs significantly improved one or more sexual behaviors. The evidence is strong that programs do not hasten or increase sexual behavior but, instead, some programs delay or decrease sexual behaviors or increase condom or contraceptive use. Effective curricula commonly incorporated 17 characteristics that describe the curricula development; the goals, objectives, and teaching strategies of the curricula themselves; and their implementation. Programs were effective across a wide variety of countries, cultures, and groups of youth. Replications of studies also indicate that programs remain effective when implemented by others in different communities, provided all the activities are implemented as intended in similar settings.
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          Effect of serotesting with counselling on condom use and seroconversion among HIV discordant couples in Africa.

          To determine whether HIV testing and counselling increased condom use and decreased heterosexual transmission of HIV in discordant couples. Prospective study. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Cohabiting couples with discordant HIV serology results. Condom use in the couple and HIV seroconversion in the negative partners. 60 HIV discordant couples were identified, of whom 53 were followed for an average of 2.2 years. The proportion of discordant couples using condoms increased from 4% to 57% after one year of follow up. During follow up two of the 23 HIV negative men and six of the 30 HIV negative women seroconverted (seroconversion rates of 4 and 9 per 100 person years). The rate among women was less than half that estimated for similar women in discordant couples whose partners had not been serotested. Condom use was less common among those who seroconverted (100% v 5%, p = 0.01 in men; 67% v 25%, p = 0.14 in women). Roughly one in seven cohabiting couples in Kigali have discordant HIV serological results. Confidential HIV serotesting with counselling caused a large increase in condom use and was associated with a lower rate of new HIV infections. HIV testing is a promising intervention for preventing the spread of HIV in African cities.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, USA
            [2 ]University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Minneapolis, USA
            [3 ]University of California, San Francisco, Global Health Sciences, San Francisco, USA
            [4 ]World Health Organization, Reproductive Health and Research, Geneva, Switzerland
            [5 ]United Nations Population Fund, New York, USA
            [6 ]International Planned Parenthood Federation, London, UK
            J Int AIDS Soc
            Journal of the International AIDS Society
            BioMed Central
            19 July 2010
            : 13
            : 26
            Copyright ©2010 Kennedy et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


            Infectious disease & Microbiology


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