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UNAIDS ‘multiple sexual partners’ core indicator: Promoting sexual networks to reduce potential biases.
Global Health Action. 2014; 7:23103.UNAIDS proposed a set of core indicators for monitoring changes in the worldwide AIDS epidemic. This paper explores the validity and effectiveness of the ‘multiple sexual partners’ core indicator, which is only partially captured with current available data. The paper also suggests an innovative approach for collecting more informative data that can be used to provide an accurate measure of the UNAIDS’s ‘multiple sexual partners’ core indicator. Specifically, the paper addresses three major limitations associated with the indicator when it is measured with respondents’ sexual behaviors. First, the indicator assumes that a person’s risk of contracting HIV / AIDS / STIs is merely a function of his / her own sexual behavior. Second, the indicator does not account for a partner’s sexual history, which is very important in assessing an individual’s risk level. Finally, the 12-month period used to define a person’s risks can be misleading, especially because HIV / AIDS theoretically has a period of latency longer than a year. The paper concludes that, programmatically, improvements in data collection are a top priority for reducing the observed bias in the ‘multiple sexual partners’ core indicator.