Objective: To estimate HIV-1 prevalence among the adult population in the Arusha region, northern Tanzania.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Methods: Clusters of 10 households were randomly selected from urban, semi-urban and rural areas in the Arusha region. Informed verbal consent for participation in the interview and HIV-1 test were obtained from the respondents. HIV-1 antibodies were tested using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and all ELISA-positive sera were confirmed using Western blot. Approximately 66.0% of the eligible registered adults (aged 15-54 years) participated in the interview, of whom 56.6% provided blood samples for HIV-1 testing.
Results: HIV-1 prevalence rates among the study population from the low and high socioeconomic status urban areas, semi-urban area and rural village were 10.7, 5.2, 2.2 and 1.6%, respectively. HIV-1 prevalence was significantly higher among women (6.5%) than men (1.7%), and infection rates were consistently higher among women than men in all areas studied except in the rural village. Divorced and separated individuals had significantly higher HIV-1 prevalence (14.8%) compared with married and cohabiting individuals (4.0%). Significantly more individuals with multiple sexual partners reported regular condom use (19.3%) than those with one sexual partner (6.4%).
Conclusion: HIV-1 prevalence in the Arusha region was higher among the urban population than among the rural population. Women living in urban areas with low socioeconomic status appeared to be associated with increased risk of HIV-1 infection.