Low Prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1), HIV-2, and Human T Cell Lymphotropic Virus-1 Infection in Somalia

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  • US Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3, STD Project, Ministry of Health, Division of Retrovirology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Cairo, Egypt

A seroepidemiologic survey was conducted to determine the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), HIV-2, human T cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I), and Treponema pallidum infection among southern Somalis. Sera were collected from 1, 269 study subjects in the urban area of the capital city, Mogadishu, and in the rural towns of Merka, Qoryoley, and Kismayo. The subjects included 57 prostitutes, 79 sexually transmitted disease (STD) patients, and 1, 133 others, including outpatient and hospitalized patients with leprosy, tuberculosis, other infectious diseases, individuals from rehabilitation camps and secondary schools, and Ethiopian immigrants. Results indicated that none of the sera were positive for HIV-1 and HIV-2 by Western blot, but one was positive for HTLV-I. The prostitutes had a significantly higher prevalence of treponemal antibody (50.8%, P < 0.0001) than either the STD patients (12.6%) or the other subjects (5.2%). Epidemiologic data indicated that 94% of the males and females were circumcised and only 2.6% of the males used condoms. Overall, the results of this study suggested a very low prevalence of HIV-1, HIV-2, and HTLV-I infections, especially among prostitutes and STD patients, who were considered at greatest risk of contracting these retroviral infections.