Polygyny and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa

Georges Reniers, University of Colorado at Boulder
Rania Tfaily, Carleton University

In most African countries with generalized epidemics, HIV infection is more common in men and women in polygynous unions than in monogamous unions. Using DHS data for twelve African countries and longitudinal survey data from Malawi, we study adverse selection into polygynous unions as one of the factors that explain cross-sectional differences in HIV prevalence. The survey data from Malawi allow us to evaluate selection into polygynous unions based on characteristics that correlate with HIV status (widowhood and marriage order). From the DHS surveys with linked seroprevalence data, we select women who married in a three month interval prior to the survey. This guarantees that their HIV infection predates the marriage, and assess the recruitment into monogamous and polygynous unions using their HIV status as the main predictor of interest. We conclude with reflections on the possible implication of these selection processes on population-level trends in HIV prevalence.

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Presented in Session 139: Multiple Partnerships