- Although recent worldwide records show a significant decline in HIV infection, reports indicate that Southern Africa is by far the most affected region and across all age groups.
According to a new publication, HIV Prevalence Estimates from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), HIV tests among thousands of men and women provide a sobering look at the international epidemic.
The new report describes international burden of the epidemic with prevalence rates ranging from less than one percent in Asia and West Africa to almost 26 percent in tiny southern African Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
"About one in four adults is infected in Lesotho and Swaziland and 18 percent in Zimbabwe," the report says.
It says however, less than one percent of the population is infected in three Asian countries with DHS-based HIV estimates-India, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
The report further explains that in India, less than one percent means that close to 2 million people aged between 15 and 49 are infected with HIV.
"In most African countries, women start having sexual intercourse younger than men, increasing their risk of contracting HIV earlier in life. In almost all countries HIV prevalence among women peaks between 25 and 34," it states.
Almost 50 percent of Swazi women aged between 25 and 29 are infected with HIV and about 35 percent of Zimbabwean women aged from 30 to 34, among men, however, infection rates peak at ages 35-39, the report says.
In Swaziland, where DHS tested older adults, it shows that 28 percent of men aged between 50 and 54 are HIV positive, as are 17 percent of men age 55-59 and 13 percent aged 60 and older.
DHS findings also show that HIV continues to be an urban epidemic, saying city dwellers are more likely to be infected in all but two of the 28 countries - the Dominican Republic and Senegal. In some countries urban-rural difference is striking, according to report, giving for example Central Africa Republic, where eight percent of urban residents are infected compared to five percent of rural residents.
Looking at other scenarios, DHS says when HIV status between marital partners is different, prevention is even more complex. According to the report, discordant couples, that is, one partner is positive and the other is negative, range from one percent in Niger and Mali, to 14.3 percent of couples in Lesotho and 16.4 percent in Swaziland.
DHS household surveys typically interview nationally representative samples of over 10,000 men and women age15-49. Along with the verbal interview, the survey can include blood tests for anemia, malaria, HIV, and other conditions.
MEASURE DHS is implemented by Macro International and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
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