Sex practices and awareness of Ebola virus disease among male survivors and their partners in Guinea
Kondé MK., Diop MK., Marie Yvonne C., Barry A., Kouyaté S., Ghilardi L., Kouyaté S., Diallo AM., Magassouba N., Quick I., Keïta M., Carroll MW., Jansa J., Subissi L.
© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017. All rights reserved. Introduction Towards the end of the 2013-2016 West African outbreak, sexually-transmitted Ebola virus reemerged from Ebola virus disease (EVD) survivors in all three hardest hit countries. We explore sex practices and awareness of the risk of Ebola virus transmission among EVD survivors and their partners. Methods In this cross-sectional study, we recruited a convenience sample of study participants aged >15 years who were male EVD survivors, their sexual partners and a comparison group. We administered a questionnaire to all respondents, estimated self-reported sexual practices and risk awareness and conducted in-depth interviews. Results We recruited 234 EVD survivors, 256 sexual partners of survivors and 65 individuals in the comparison group from five prefectures in Guinea. The prevalence of safe sexual behaviour (regular condom use or sexual abstinence >12 months) and regular condom use in EVD survivors was 38% (95% CI 31% to 44%) and 21% (95% CI 16% to 27%), respectively. Among partners, these prevalences were lower (11%, 95% CI 7% to 15% and 9%, 95% CI 5% to 12%, respectively). EVD survivors were more than five times as likely to engage in safe sexual behaviour compared with the comparison group (aOR 5.59, 95% CI 2.36 to 13.2). One-hundred and thirty one EVD survivors (57%) and 94 partners (37%) were aware of the risk of Ebola virus re-emergence associated with having unsafe sex. Partners who reported not being informed by their husband/boyfriend (EVD survivor) were more likely to be unaware of this risk (aOR 20.5, 95% CI 8.92 to 47.4). Conclusions We disclose here a need to improve knowledge of the disease and close the gap between knowledge and practice found in EVD survivors and their partners. Current and future survivors' follow-up programmes should include partners and be more effective at communicating sex-related risks. Community-level fears and attitudes that enable stigmatisation should be addressed. Safe sex interventions targeting EVD survivors and their partners should be prioritised.