Socio-economic and demographic factors associated with prevalence of HIV infection among pregnant women in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

  • G Msamanga
  • W Fawzi
  • E Hertzmark
  • N McGrath
  • S Kapiga
  • C Kagoma
  • D Spiegelman
  • D Hunter


Background: HIV/AIDS epidemic has become generalised in low resource settings in sub-Saharan Africa where 90% of all maternal-foetal transmission of HIV infection occurs. Global effort to scale-up pMTCT is underway, however, mechanisms to maximise screening of HIV- 1 positive women for Nevirapine treatment and other interventions, are not clear.

Objective: To identify socioeconomic and demographic characteristics associated with the prevalence of HIV- 1 infection among Tanzanian women.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Four antenatal clinics in Dar es Salaam.

Results: HIV prevalence rate was 13.1 (95% confidence interval (CI): 12.7% - 13.5%) and it increased with increasing maternal age. Older age than 25, mid-arm circumference less than 25cm, geographic location, working in a public house, and partner's occupation were independently associated with higher prevalence of infection. Women in monogamous marriages were 77% less likely to be HIV infected compared to women with no regular partner. Similarly, women with more than five persons per household, and those who spent less on food had a significantly lower HIV prevalence.

Conclusion: HIV infection is sufficiently widespread among women in Dar es Salaam suggesting that screening based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics would miss a large proportion of the positives. There is need to increase facilities for counselling and testing using an opt-out approach for testing in all antenatal clinics in the city.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 83(6) 2006: 311-321

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eISSN: 0012-835X