Introduction: Variation in the proportion of individuals living in a stable HIV sero-discordant partnership (SDP), and the potential drivers of such variability across sub Saharan Africa (SSA), are still not well-understood. This study aimed to examine the spatial clustering of HIV sero-discordancy, and the impact of local variation in HIV prevalence on patterns of sero-discordancy in high HIV prevalence countries in SSA. Methods: We described the spatial patterns of sero-discordancy among stable couples by analyzing Demographic and Health Survey data from Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We identified spatial clusters of SDPs in each country through a Kulldorff spatial scan statistics analysis. After a geographical cluster was identified, epidemiologic measures of sero-discordancy were calculated and analyzed. Results: Spatial clusters with significantly high numbers of SDPs were identified and characterized in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania, and they largely overlapped with the clusters with high HIV prevalence. There was a positive correlation between HIV prevalence and the proportion of SDPs among all stable couples across within and outside clusters. Conversely, there was a negative, but weak and not significant, correlation between HIV prevalence and the proportion of SDPs among all stable couples with at least one HIV-infected individual in the partnership. Discussion: There does not appear to be distinct spatial patterns for HIV sero-discordancy that are independent of HIV prevalence patterns. The variation of the sero-discordancy measures with HIV prevalence across clusters and outside clusters demonstrated similar patterns to those observed at the national level. The spatial variable does not appear to be a fundamental nor independent determinant of the observed patterns of sero-discordancy in high HIV prevalence countries in SSA.
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