HIV prevalence highest among wealthier population in sub-Saharan Africa

March 4, 2014

Extant studies universally document a positive relationship between socioeconomic status and health. A notable exception is the apparent concentration of HIV/AIDS among wealthier individuals. An interesting paper demonstrates that HIV/AIDS is concentrated among higher socioeconomic status individuals in the majority of sub-Saharan African countries. What does this indicate?

Swaziland and Senegal are the only countries in the region where HIV/AIDS is concentrated among individuals living in poorer households. Stratified analyses by gender showed HIV/AIDS was generally concentrated among wealthier men and women. In some countries, including Kenya, Lesotho, Uganda, and Zambia, HIV/AIDS was concentrated among the poor in urban areas but among wealthier adults in rural areas. Decomposition analyses indicated that, besides wealth itself urban residence was the most important factor contributing to the concentration of HIV/AIDS among wealthier participants in sub-Saharan African countries (SSA).

The researchers suggest that further work is needed to understand the mechanisms explaining the concentration of HIV/AIDS among wealthier individuals and urban residents in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Higher prevalence of HIV/AIDS could be indicative of better care and survival among wealthier individuals and urban adults, or reflect greater risk behavior and incidence. Moreover, differential findings across countries suggest that effective intervention efforts for reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS in the SSA should be country specific.

Source: Socioeconomic inequalities in HIV/AIDS prevalence in sub-Saharan African countries: evidence from the Demographic Health Surveys, Mohammad Hajizadeh, Drissa Sia, S Jody Heymann and Arijit Nandi, February 2014. 

This news item has been published in the STOP AIDS NOW! E-news “Income for Prevention” (March 2014)