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AIDS Care. 2004 Jan;16(1):107-15.

Burden of infection among heads and non-head of rural households in Rakai, Uganda.

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Rakai Project, Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe.


The objective was to determine HIV prevalence, symptomatology and mortality among adult heads and non-heads of households, in order to assess the burden of HIV on households. It was a community study of 11,536 adults aged 15-59, residing in 4,962 households in 56 villages, Rakai district, Uganda. First, 4,962 heads and 6,574 non-heads of households were identified from censuses. Interviews were then used to determine socio-demographic/behavioural characteristics. HIV seroprevalence was diagnosed by two EIAs with Western blot confirmation. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of HIV infection in household heads and non-heads were estimated by multivariate logistic regression. Age-adjusted mortality was also assessed. HIV prevalence was 16.9% in the population, and 21.5% of households had at least one HIV-infected person (<0.0001). HIV prevalence was higher among heads than non-heads of households (21.5 and 13.3%, respectively, OR=1.79; CI 1.62-1.97). Most household heads were males (70.5%), and HIV prevalence was 17.8% among male heads compared with 6.6% in male non-heads of households (OR=2.31; CI 1.65-2.52). Women heading households were predominantly widowed, separated or divorced (64.4%). HIV prevalence was 30.5% among female heads, compared with 15.6% in female non-household heads (OR=1.42; CI 1.15-1.63). Age-adjusted mortality was significantly lower among male household heads than non-heads, both for the HIV-positive (RR=0.68) and HIV-negative men (RR=0.63). Among women, HIV-negative female household heads had significantly higher mortality than HIV-uninfected female non-heads (RR=1.72). HIV disproportionately affects heads of households, particularly males. Mortality due to AIDS is likely to increase the proportion of female-headed households, and adversely affect the welfare of domestic units.

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