In countries in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is transmitted primarily heterosexually. HIV infection and AIDS in women not only affects women's health but also has implications for the other members of society. Maternal infection is the source of most childhood HIV infection in Africa and maternal health is a strong predictor of child survival. In Uganda, a review of passive AIDS surveillance has shown almost equal numbers of clinical cases reported in men and women. However, in three population-based HIV serosurveys, women were consistently found to have a higher infection rate (approximately 1.4 times) than men. In addition, both AIDS case surveillance and seroprevalence studies demonstrate an earlier age of presentation and mean age of infection in women. The higher rate of HIV infection in women suggests either differential rates of transmission between women and men, higher rates of female sexual exposure to infected men, or longer survival among HIV-infected women compared with men. Although further studies are required to illuminate both the biology and the epidemiology of heterosexual HIV transmission in Africa, these findings of earlier and higher infection rates in women have important implications for women's health and child survival in Uganda and indicate the need for specially targeted interventions to reduce transmission in this group.
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
- HIV Infections
- HIV Seroprevalence
- Population Surveillance