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ERRB Scientific Publications: HIV/AIDS: Fact Sheet

What is the Public Health Problem?

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa and the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

Many complex humanitarian emergencies are in countries that face HIV/AIDS epidemics, but data on the burden of HIV/AIDS in these situations is scarce.

Refugees and displaced populations may be at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS as a result of:

  • changes in societal structures,
  • broken family units,
  • economic vulnerability of women and unaccompanied minors,
  • a rise in transactional sex ,
  • the presence of sexual violence and coercive sex,
  • untreated psychological trauma, and
  • the disruption of preventive and curative health services.

Refugees and displaced persons with HIV/AIDS are at increased risk of infectious diseases and malnutrition which are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in humanitarian emergencies.

What has the CDC Accomplished?

In 2002, CDC conducted an HIV/AIDS seroprevalence and behavioral risk factor survey in all accessible areas of Sierra Leone (representing 79% of the population).

  • The objective was to provide baseline data for program planning, monitoring and evaluation, and advocacy prior to implementation of the Sierra Leone HIV/AIDS Response Project (SHARP).

In 2002, CDC surveyed pregnant women and patients with sexually transmitted infections (STI) in Yei County, Western Equatoria and Southern Sudan.

  • This was part of the pilot project, ‘Reducing HIV/AIDS Transmission and Improving Related Reproductive Health Practices in Southern Sudan’.
  • For the first time in a CHE situation, Rapid HIV and Syphilis tests were used.

In 2005, CDC collaborated with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) to complete a comprehensive HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) survey among United Nations peacekeepers in Liberia.

  • Results were presented to the UN Security Council.

In 2007, CDC completed the second comprehensive HIV/AIDS KAP survey in The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, in collaboration with UNDPKO.

In 2007, CDC also provided technical advice to UNHCR in the analysis and editing of seroprevalence surveys among refugees in Kenyan and Ugandan camps.

In 2008, CDC conducted a population based survey in Kenya and studied the effect of the election violence on access to and availability of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services.

Most recently, CDC completed and disseminated a toolkit of protocols in HIV/STI assessment methods for organizations that support, plan or implement HIV/STI programs in humanitarian emergencies.

What are the Next Steps?

A follow-up comprehensive analysis of the HIV/AIDS KAP survey findings and lessons learned will be carried out.

  • The combination of these survey results will inform future UN deployment and training protocols and provide a standard tool and methodology for measuring HIV/AIDS indicators among UNDPKO operations globally.

CDC will conduct a population-based, comprehensive HIV/AIDS behavior and awareness survey with biological indicators among refugees in Kenya and Uganda.

A variety of HIV/AIDS data is being collected as part of the UNHCR Health Information System global operations. In order to evaluate the attributes of the system and the systematic collection of HIV/AIDS indicators CDC will:

  • monitor trends in HIV/AIDS health status and thus continually address health care priorities;
  • evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and service coverage; and
  • evaluate the quality of health interventions.

CDC will continue to conduct rapid assessments, population based surveys and collect surveillance data and translate those findings into best practices which can be used to assist humanitarian agencies to prevent and mitigate HIV/AIDS and STI in complex humanitarian emergencies.

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