Purpose: A growing body of evidence strongly suggests that unsafe health care is an important factor driving the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. We investigate whether nonuse of autodisable syringes and other health care indicators predict national HIV prevalence.
Methods: These ecologic analyses use countries as study units in descriptive analyses and regression analyses. Two sets of observations are used: (i) all low- and lower-middle-income countries, and (ii) all sub-Saharan African countries with available data.
Results: In the descriptive analysis, health care indicators (health expenditures, vaccination coverage, and use of autodisable syringes) have a U-shaped relationship with HIV prevalence in the larger sample. Greater density of physicians is associated with lower HIV prevalence. In sub-Saharan Africa, antenatal care coverage is associated with increasing HIV prevalence. In regression analyses, nonuse of autodisable syringes is associated robustly with greater HIV prevalence in all models. For the larger sample, greater HIV prevalence also is associated with higher Gini Index, less female economic activity, less urbanization, and less percentage of Muslims. In sub-Saharan Africa, tetanus vaccination coverage has a U-shaped association with HIV prevalence. Low physician density and percentage of Muslims are associated with HIV prevalence. Other economic and health care indicators and epidemic age are not significant correlates of HIV prevalence.
Conclusions: This analysis adds to the other sources of evidence for health care transmission of HIV (in sub-Saharan Africa and regions with similar epidemiologic characteristics) by showing that health care indicators (failure to use autodisable syringes and greater tetanus coverage) are associated robustly with greater HIV prevalence. We recommend that resources be reallocated to address health care transmission of HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.