GUINEA: Government study shows HIV infections rising
DAKAR, 24 March 2005 (PlusNews) - A new sentinel survey of pregnant women who underwent voluntary AIDS testing in maternity clincs, indicates that 4.3 percent of Guinea's adult population is infected with HIV.
That represents a big jump from the figure of 2.8 percent suggested by the previous sentinel survey carried out in 2001.
The new survey was conducted last year by the government's National Council for Fighting AIDS (CNLS) and the German aid agency GTZ. It was funded by the World Bank.
The results have not yet been officially published, but they were made available to PlusNews.
The survey was based on the testing of 4,525 pregnant women at maternity clinics in the capital Conakry and the provincial towns of Mamou, Labe, Kankan and Nzerekore.
Health workers in Guinea told PlusNews that it showed a big fluctuation in HIV prevalence rates between different parts of the West African country.
While infection rates were generally higher in the main towns, they reached a peak of over 13 percent in the rural area around the southeastern town of Nzerekore, they noted.
This area is packed with refugees from Liberia, and Guinean migrants who returned from nearby Cote d'Ivoire following the outbreak of civil war there in 2002.
In the town of Nzerekore itself, the HIV prevalence rate was much lower, but still well above the national average, at 7.4 percent.
GTZ has meanwhile revealed plans to provide comprehensive treatment, including the supply of antiretroviral drugs, to 700 people at three provincial treatment centres in central and western Guinea.
Doctor Aissatou Dieng, an official of GTZ's AIDS control programme in Guinea, told PlusNews by e-mail that the new patients would be taken on at clinics in Mamou, Labe and Faranah.
GTZ launched an ARV treatment programme in Guinea in 2003. It currently supplies the life-enhancing drugs to 53 people in Mamou, 215 km northeast of Conakry.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Belgium meanwhile provides antiretroviral treatment for 105 people in Conakry and Guekedou, a town in southern Guinea close to the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia.
However, these intitiatives still only scratch the surface of the problem in this country of eight million people.