Alcohol Misuse and Illicit Drug Use Among Occupational Groups at High Risk of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review

AIDS Behav. 2019 Dec;23(12):3199-3225. doi: 10.1007/s10461-019-02483-y.


Key occupational groups in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are at increased risk of HIV, and may be at increased risk of substance use. In January 2018, we systematically searched for studies reporting prevalence of, and risk factors for alcohol misuse or illicit drug use and their association with HIV incidence or prevalence among fisherfolk, uniformed personnel, truckers, miners, motorcycle taxi riders and sex workers in SSA. Seventy-one studies published between 1983 and 2017 were included: 35 reported on alcohol misuse (19 using AUDIT, 5 using CAGE) and 44 on illicit drug use (eight reported both). Median prevalence of alcohol misuse based on AUDIT/CAGE was 32.8% (IQR 20.8-48.5%). Prevalence of illicit drug use ranged from 0.1% (95% CI: 0.0-0.2%) for injection drug use to 97.1% (95% CI: 85.1-99.9%) for khat (among uniformed personnel). Among papers examining associations between substance use and HIV incidence (n = 3) or prevalence (n = 14), nine papers (53%) reported a significant positive association (2 with incidence, 7 with prevalence). Harm reduction interventions in occupational settings are urgently required to prevent new HIV infections.

Keywords: Alcohol misuse; HIV; Illicit drug use; Key populations; Sub-Saharan Africa.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Incidence
  • Occupations*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sex Workers
  • Sexual Partners
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs