Wilson E, Donnell D, Skalland T, Floyd S, Moore A, Bell-Mandla N, Bwalya J, Kasese N, Dunbar R, Shanaube K, Kosloff B, Laeyendecker O, Agyei Y, Hoddinott G, Bock P, Fidler S, Hayes R, Ayles H; HPTN 071 (PopART) Study Team. Impact of universal testing and treatment on sexual risk behaviour and herpes simplex virus type 2: a prespecified secondary outcomes analysis of the HPTN 071 (PopART) community-randomised trial. Lancet HIV. 2022, 9: e760-e770. PMC9646971
Background: Comprehensive HIV prevention strategies have raised concerns that knowledge of interventions to reduce risk of HIV infection might mitigate an individual's perception of risk, resulting in riskier sexual behaviour. We investigated the prespecified secondary outcomes of the HPTN 071 (PopART) trial to determine whether a combination HIV prevention strategy, including universal HIV testing and treatment, changed sexual behaviour; specifically, we investigated whether there was evidence of sexual risk compensation. Methods: HPTN 071 (PopART) was a cluster-randomised trial conducted during 2013-18, in which we randomly assigned 21 communities with high HIV prevalence in Zambia and South Africa (total population, approximately 1 million) to combination prevention intervention with universal antiretroviral therapy (ART; arm A), prevention intervention with ART provided according to local guidelines (universal since 2016; arm B), or standard of care (arm C). The trial included a population cohort of approximately 2000 randomly selected adults (aged 18-44 years) in each community (N=38 474 at baseline) who were followed up for 36 months. A prespecified secondary objective was to evaluate the impact of the PopART intervention compared with standard of care on herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and sexual behaviour (N=20 422 completed final visit). Secondary endpoints included differences in sexual risk behaviour measures at 36 months and were assessed using a two-stage method for matched cluster-randomised trials. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials. gov, number NCT01900977. Findings: The PopART intervention did not substantially change probability of self-reported multiple sex partners, sexual debut, or pregnancy in women at 36 months. Adjusted for baseline community prevalence, reported condomless sex was significantly lower in arm A versus arm C (adjusted prevalence ratio 0·80 [95% CI 0·64-0·99]; p=0·04) but not in arm B versus arm C (0·94 [0·76-1·17]; p=0·55). 3-year HSV-2 incidence was reduced in arm B versus arm C (adjusted risk ratio 0·76 [95% CI 0·63-0·92]; p=0·010); no significant change was shown between arm A versus arm C (0·89 [0·73-1·08]; p=0·199). Interpretation: We found little evidence of any change in sexual behaviour owing to the PopART interventions, and reassuringly for public health, we saw no evidence of sexual risk compensation. The findings do not help to explain the differences between the two intervention groups of the HPTN 071 (PopART) trial. Funding: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Medical Research Council UK.