HIV and Syphilis Prevalence and Associated Risks in the Cameroonian Armed Forces

Author(s): Michael Grillo*, Bonnie Robin Tran, Ubald Tamoufe, Cyrille F. Djoko, Karen Saylors, Kelly Woodland, L.T.C. Wangmene, Caroline Macera

Journal Name: Current HIV Research

Volume 15 , Issue 2 , 2017

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Graphical Abstract:


Background: Continued surveillance of the HIV epidemic is critical to monitor changes in trends and risk behaviors. A 2005 study in the Cameroonian Armed Forces (CAF) found an HIV prevalence of 11.3% among male and female service members. The purpose of the current study is to determine the 5-year change in the HIV prevalence, estimate the prevalence of syphilis, and examine factors associated with infection in the CAF.

Methods: Participants were male and female service members 18 years of age or older who were stationed at one of the 10 military garrisons selected for participation. The military garrisons included in this study were proportionally representative of the CAF by geographic region. Military companies and individuals within the selected garrisons were randomly chosen to participate in the study. Demographic and behavioral risk data were collected from September-November 2011 using personal interviews. Blood was collected for HIV and syphilis testing.

Results: Of 2,523 participants tested, 6.0% screened positive for HIV [includes 5.3% who screened positive for HIV only and 0.7% who screened positive for both HIV and syphilis], and 3.1% screened positive for syphilis only. Analyses examining risk factors associated with HIV/syphilis infection (i.e., infected with HIV, infected with syphilis, or co-infected with both HIV and syphilis) were restricted to 2,255 men who reported ever having sex. In a multivariate logistic regression model, the odds of testing positive for HIV/syphilis were higher among men who were separated, divorced, or widowed (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=3.13, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.24–7.89), had sex with sex workers (AOR=1.64, 95% CI: 1.19–2.27), and reported a genital sore/ulcer in the past 12 months preceeding the survey (AOR=1.73, 95% CI: 1.05–2.86). Higher HIV knowledge was protective against HIV/syphilis infection (AOR=0.73, 95% CI: 0.54–0.99). While the overall HIV prevalence in this sample of military personnel was lower than previously reported (6.0% [95% CI: 5.12–6.97] in 2011 vs. 11.3% [95% CI: 10.01–12.68] in 2005; confidence intervals do not overlap), several factors associated with HIV/syphilis infection were identified including being separated, divorced, or widowed, having sex with a sex worker, and reporting a genital sore/ulcer in the past 12 months.

Conclusion: HIV and syphilis education among all military personnel as they enter service and proceed forward is important to reinforce prevention methods and practices.

Keywords: HIV, military populations, sexual behaviors, syphilis, prevention, infection.

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Article Details

Year: 2017
Published on: 14 June, 2017
Page: [137 - 145]
Pages: 9
DOI: 10.2174/1570162X15666170517102327
Price: $65

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