Researchers Concerned About Disparities in HIV/AIDS Services Between Rural, Urban Areas in Some West African Countries
Some West African researchers are expressing concerns about disparities in HIV/AIDS services and prevention campaigns between rural and urban areas in the region, Inter Press Service reports.
Bonfo Bassirou, a researcher for the Swiss Centre for Scientific Research in Cote d'Ivoire, said that some people in rural regions in the country have limited access to HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment services despite the availability of such resources in urban areas. According to Bassirou, there are no centers for voluntary HIV testing in Cote d'Ivoire's rural areas, and in the few places where testing centers have been established, the facilities usually are too far away from surrounding villages. He added that widespread illiteracy makes people in these regions more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Government figures indicate that the rate of illiteracy among rural inhabitants is about 60%, compared with the national average of 40%. According to a 2005 study by Cote d'Ivoire's Ministry of Health, HIV prevalence in urban areas is 5.7%, compared with 4.1% in rural areas. "If nothing is done to reduce the disparity of information about HIV/AIDS between urban areas and rural areas, the pandemic could progress in certain poor countries," Bassirou said.
Researcher Maria Fatou Drame made similar observations about Senegal, Inter Press Service reports. "Even in Senegal, everything is focused on urban areas, while rural areas -- such as the northeast of Senegal, for example -- have extensive need of" HIV/AIDS resources, she said. UNAIDS estimates that adult HIV prevalence in Senegal is less than 1%. Dramane Sawadogo, a researcher in Burkina Faso, said that rural educators should be trained to teach about HIV/AIDS so that they can raise awareness among farmers. He also said the number of voluntary testing centers should be increased, even if this necessitates establishing mobile clinics. UNAIDS places adult HIV prevalence in Burkina Faso at 2% (Zamble, Inter Press Service, 9/16).