Background: Since 1986, northern Uganda has been severely affected by civil strife with most of its population currently living internally displaced in protected camps. This study aims at estimating the HIV-1 prevalence among this population and the factors associated with infection.
Methods: In June-December 2005, a total of 3051 antenatal clinics attendees in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts were anonymously tested for HIV-1 infection as part of routine sentinel surveillance. Factors associated with the infection were evaluated using logistic regression models.
Results: The age-standardised HIV-1 prevalence was 10.3%, 9.1% and 4.3% in the Gulu, Kitgum and Pader district, respectively. The overall prevalence in the area comprised of these districts was 8.2% when data was weighted according to the districts' population size. Data from all sites combined show that, besides older women [20-24 years: adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.96, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.29-2.97; 25-29 years: AOR = 2.01, 95% CI: 1.30-3.11; > or = 30 years: AOR = 1.91, 95% CI: 1.23-2.97], unmarried women (AOR = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.06-2.04), and those with a partner with a non-traditional occupation (AOR = 1.62, 95% CI: 1.18-2.21), women living outside of protected camps for internally displaced persons have a higher risk of being HIV-1 infected than internally displaced women (AOR = 1.55, 95% CI: 1.15-2.08).
Conclusion: Although published data from Gulu district show a declining HIV-1 prevalence trend that is consistent with that observed at the national level since 1993, the prevalence in North Uganda is still high. Internally displaced women have a lower risk of being infected probably because of their reduced mobility and accessibility, and increased access to health prevention services.