A two-year study that was launched in Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, has proved that men in a relationship with an HIV-positive woman are twice more likely to get infected when their partner is pregnant.
According to global media reports, the research focused on more than 3,300 couples in which one of the partners was HIV-positive.
Dr. Nelly Mugo of the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta National Hospital, explained that biological changes that occur during pregnancy may make women more infectious than they would otherwise be.
In their analysis, they found that pregnancy was associated with increased risk of both female-to-male and male-to-female HIV transmission.
The study also found that for women with an HIV- infected partner, there is a higher risk of acquiring the virus during pregnancy.
In men, however, the link between pregnancy and HIV risk was much clearer, even after considering whether or not they had engaged in unprotected sex or were circumcised.
The Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission, Dr. Anita Asiimwe noted that studies in Rwanda have shown that the rates of HIV infections among women are higher than those among men.
“According to the 2007 Demographic Health Survey, HIV rates are higher in women but we are yet to confirm details concerning this new study,” Asiimwe said.
The results were presented on Sunday at the International Microbicides Conference (M2010) in Pittsburgh, USA.
Microbicides (substances designed to be applied topically on the inside of the rectum or vagina) are under active investigation as a method for women to use to protect against HIV.
Currently, microbicide trials are going on in the country.