Marriageable Mates: How Effective Is Partnership Selection as an HIV Prevention Strategy?

Elizabeth A. Sully, Princeton University

HIV risk is shaped as much by the partners we choose as by the sexual behaviors we engage in. In the absence of widespread uptake of couples testing, most partnerships lack information about prospective partners’ sero-status. This paper seeks to determine how effective individuals are at managing this uncertainty. Previous research has suggested that individuals use selective partnership formation to select against risky attributes, such as age, mobility, and widowhood. What remains unclear, however, is how accurate people are at selecting sero-negative partners. To answer this question, a mixed-methods strategy is employed using marriage formation data from a sero-surveillance site in South-Western Uganda. Trends in marital partnership formation and sero-sorting are analyzed from 1998-2011 to determine if there is homogamy on sero-status. In-depth interviews on the process of marriage formation are then analyzed to better understand what mechanisms may be driving these trends.

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Presented in Session 160: Sexual Behavior, Sexual Networks and STI/HIV