Risk of HIV acquisition among high-risk heterosexuals with nonviral sexually transmitted infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis


BACKGROUND: Nonviral sexually transmitted infections (STIs) increase risk of sexually-acquired HIV infection. Updated risk estimates carefully scrutinizing temporality bias of studies are needed. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review (PROSPERO # CRD42018084299) of peer-reviewed studies evaluating variation in risk of HIV infection among high-risk heterosexuals diagnosed with any of: Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma genitalium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Treponema pallidum, and/or Trichomonas vaginalis. We searched PubMed, Web of Science, and Embase databases through December 2017 and included studies where STIs and HIV were assessed using laboratory tests or medical exams and where STI was diagnosed before HIV. After dual screening, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment, we meta-analytically pooled risk ratios (RR). RESULTS: We found 32 eligible studies reporting k = 97 effect size estimates of HIV acquisition risk due to infection with one of the above STIs. Most data were based on females engaged in sex work or other high-risk occupations in developing countries. Many studies did not measure or adjust for known confounders including drug injection and condom use and most were at medium or high risk of bias due to potential for undetected HIV infection to have occurred prior to STI infection. HIV acquisition risk increased among females infected with any pathogen; the effect was greatest for females infected with Mycoplasma genitalium (RR = 3.10; 95% CI 1.63, 5.92; k = 2) and gonorrhea (RR = 2.81; 95% CI 2.25, 3.50; k = 16) but also statistically significant for females infected with syphilis (RR = 1.67; 95% CI 1.23, 2.27; k = 17), trichomonas (RR = 1.54; 95% CI 1.31, 1.82; k = 17) and chlamydia (RR = 1.49; 95% CI 1.08, 2.04; k = 14). For males, data were space except for syphilis (RR = 1.77; 95% CI 1.22, 2.58; k = 5). CONCLUSION: Nonviral STI increases risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition, although uncertainty remains due to risk of bias in primary studies.


Barker EK, Malekinejad M, Merai R, Lyles CM, Sipe TA, DeLuca JB, Ridpath AD, Gift TL, Tailor A, Kahn JG




  • Population(s)
    • Women
    • Sex workers
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Prevention
    • Sexual risk behaviour
  • Co-infections
    • Gonorrhea
    • Syphilis
    • Other


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