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Report: AIDS in
Africa may be overstated

Report: AIDS in
Africa may be overstated

Rural areas in Africa aren't hit as hard as expected by HIV, say researchers.

Although most global researchers estimate the HIV prevalence rate in a country based on the percentage of pregnant women at prenatal clinics found to be HIV-positive, that approach could be producing wildly inaccurate estimates, The Washington Post reports. In Rwanda, for example, the United Nations estimated the HIV prevalence rate to be 13%, but a new nationwide HIV survey shows that among residents ages 15 to 49 the rate is actually about 3%. Some groups had claimed Rwanda's rate was as high as 30%.

Researchers say using data from prenatal clinics results doesn't reflect the true nature of the disease in a country. The estimates were skewed in favor of young, sexually active women in areas with prenatal clinics, typically larger cities. Nation-by-nation surveys have shown that these urban areas have much higher HIV rates than a country's general population.

These statistical modeling approaches have greatly overestimated the spread of the disease in eastern and western Africa, they say. But the estimates are much more accurate in southern Africa, where HIV's impact is far greater than in other parts of the continent, according to researchers. HIV prevalence rates are alarmingly high in South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

In Botswana numerous studies have shown that about 35% of the nation's adults are HIV-positive; in Francistown, Botswana's second-largest city, nearly 45% of men and 70% of women ages 30 to 34 are infected. (The Advocate)

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