Researchers Concerned About Disparities In HIV/AIDS Services

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Some West African researchers are expressing concerns about disparitiesin HIV/AIDS services and prevention campaigns between rural and urbanareas in the region, Inter Press Service reports.


BonfoBassirou, a researcher for the Swiss Centre for Scientific Research inCote d'Ivoire, said that some people in rural regions in the countryhave limited access to HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatmentservices despite the availability of such resources in urban areas.According to Bassirou, there are no centers for voluntary HIV testingin Cote d'Ivoire's rural areas, and in the few places where testingcenters have been established, the facilities usually are too far awayfrom surrounding villages. He added that widespread illiteracy makespeople in these regions more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Government figuresindicate that the rate of illiteracy among rural inhabitants is about60%, compared with the national average of 40%. According to a 2005study by Cote d'Ivoire's Ministry of Health, HIV prevalence in urbanareas is 5.7%, compared with 4.1% in rural areas. "If nothing is doneto reduce the disparity of information about HIV/AIDS between urbanareas and rural areas, the pandemic could progress in certain poorcountries," Bassirou said.

Researcher Maria Fatou Drame made similar observations about Senegal, Inter Press Servicereports. "Even in Senegal, everything is focused on urban areas, whilerural areas -- such as the northeast of Senegal, for example -- haveextensive need of" HIV/AIDS resources, she said. UNAIDSestimates that adult HIV prevalence in Senegal is less than 1%. DramaneSawadogo, a researcher in Burkina Faso, said that rural educatorsshould be trained to teach about HIV/AIDS so that they can raiseawareness among farmers. He also said the number of voluntary testingcenters should be increased, even if this necessitates establishingmobile clinics. UNAIDS places adult HIV prevalence in Burkina Faso at2% (Zamble, Inter Press Service, 9/16).

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