Policy

The reduction of multiple and concurrent partnerships (MCP) is gaining priority among HIV prevention efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. Nongovernmental organizations are leading this work through various initiatives including: research, intervention campaigns, advocacy, and communications.

Two priorities for addressing MCP have been identified by several HIV prevention experts, including UNAIDS and the Soul City Institute. These priorities are:

First Priority: A reduction in multiple and concurrent partnerships, including a reduction in the number and density of sexual networks through social and behavioral change and, where feasible, through addressing structural factors (such as lengthy separation of partners due to employment practices and economic migration) that increase the likelihood of MCP.

Second Priority:  A reduction in the transmission of HIV within multiple and concurrent partnerships, and particularly within known discordant relationships (involving one partner who is HIV positive and the other HIV negative) including through consistent, correct male or female condom use, male circumcision, HIV counseling and testing (though antibody tests during the acute infection phase are generally negative) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence.

Comprehensive guidance to shape initiatives and implement programs that effectively address MCP is still needed. The resources in this section of the toolkit may help both government health officials and policymakers develop policies and guidelines to reduce MCP.