Concurrent Sexual Partnerships

Situation Analysis

Concurrent sexual partnerships are defined as overlapping partnerships where sexual intercourse with one partner occurs between two acts of intercourse with another partner. PS/Kenya measures concurrency by asking a series of questions to determine if an individual’s last three sexual partners overlapped in time.

Concurrency is typically characterized by overlapping, long-term relationships (spouse, cohabiting partner, boy/girlfriend, and sugar daddy/mommy). Some circumstances involving sex with sex workers can also be included, particularly in instances where clients return to the same sex worker over a period of time.

Concurrency has been identified as a key driver of HIV transmission, particularly in countries with epidemics, low condom use, and low prevalence of male circumcision. As a result, addressing concurrent partnerships is a strategic priority for PS/Kenya’s HIV prevention programmes.

Epidemiological modeling suggests that even a relatively small reduction in concurrent partnerships has the potential to break up extensive and dense sexual networks and can significantly slow the spread of HIV.

Concurrent partnerships are more risky than non-overlapping, multiple partnerships or serial monogamy. This is because concurrent partnerships expose more people to HIV infection in a shorter period of time by linking them together in a sexual network. Infection spreads more rapidly through a network. Concurrent partnerships also increase the likelihood that a sexually active individual will have sex with someone who is newly infected with HIV. During the early stage of HIV infection (acute infection stage), the viral load in the body is high and antibodies are often undetectable. As a result, the risk of HIV transmission is particularly high.
Concurrent Sexual Partnerships


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