This paper applies multilevel logistic regression models to Demographic and Health Survey data collected during 2003-2008 from 20 countries of sub-Saharan Africa to examine the determinants and cross-national variations in the risk of HIV seropositivity in the region. The models include individual-level and contextual region/country-level risk factors. Simultaneous confidence intervals of country-level residuals are used to compare the risk of being HIV seropositive across countries. The study reveals interesting general patterns in the risk of HIV seropositivity in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, the findings highlight the gender disparity in socio-economic risk factors, partly explained by sexual behaviour factors. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.