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Press Release

Sep 2, 2005
Wealthy and educated women are the most vulnerable to HIV infection in Cameroon

Calverton, MD. Seven percent of women in Cameroon are infected with HIV, compared with 4% among men, according to the latest Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS), conducted from February to August of 2004, the third DHS of its kind in this country.

HIV-infected women are more likely to be educated than not: 8.2% of women with a secondary school education or higher are infected, compared with 3.4% of women with no education; as for the men, the results are respectively 4.3% and 2.7%. The prevalence increases also with the socio-economic level: among women and men living in relatively wealthy households, the risk of HIV infection is more than three times higher than among those living in the poorest households.

Women age 20-39 are the most at risk for infection (8% to 10%), compared with men age 30-39 (8% to 9%). HIV prevalence reaches 12% for women age 23-24. The number of lifetime sexual partners is strongly associated with higher HIV prevalence. Only 2.7% of women who have had one partner are HIV infected, compared with 14% for those who have had 10 to 24 partners; findings for men are respectively 0.5% and 5.5%.

The 2004 CDHS is the first nationally representative survey in Cameroon to look at domestic violence. It found that 53% of women experienced physical abuse since age 15, with nine in ten of those women having been beaten in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Cameroon's Minister of Family Planning, Development Programming and Development, Mr. Augustin Frédéric Kodock, found that the 2004 CDHS is a valuable source of data on fertility, family planning, mortality, maternal and child health providing the government with "the possibility to learn more about the current situation, to assess past actions, and to reorient population and health policies and strategies."

Other key findings of the 2004 CDHS indicate that fertility has been declining very slightly as women now have an average of 5 children, compared with 5.2 during the 1998 CDHS. This trend could change over time, however, as the survey also found that women are now twice as likely to use a modern contraceptive method (13%) as they were in 1998 (7%).

Maternal and child health has shown little improvement since 1998. Infant mortality has only decreased from 77 deaths per 1,000 live births to 74 per 1,000. The proportion of women receiving antenatal care increased slightly, from 79% to 83%. Only three out of five births are attended by trained health care providers during delivery. On the other hand, the proportion of children age 12-23 months who are completely vaccinated increased from 36% in 1998 to 48% in 2004.

The 2004 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey was based on interviews with 10,656 women age 15 to 49 and 5,280 men age 15 to 59 from the 12 regions of the country. The National Institute of Statistics (NIS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, through the National Committee Against AIDS, conducted the survey with the technical assistance of ORC Macro through its MEASURE DHS+ project. Funds for the survey were provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), The World Bank, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Government of Cameroon.