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Educational status and HIV disparities in Cameroon: Are the uneducated at reduced risk of HIV infection?

Joyce N Mumah, Utah State University
Eric N Reither, Utah State University

The socioeconomic gradient in health and mortality is a persistent finding in social epidemiology. Indicators of socioeconomic status (SES) such as wealth and education are routinely found to be strongly and inversely related to various health outcomes. However, data from the 2004 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) show that educational status is positively associated with HIV prevalence, particularly among women. In this investigation, we analyzed data from 5,287 women in the 2004 Cameroon DHS to explore possible demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral mechanisms that could account for this association. After controlling for variables such as age, marital status, region of residence, and partner’s educational attainment, the association between education and HIV was not merely attenuated, but essentially eliminated. This research contributes to a growing body of literature on SES and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the potential to improve our collective understanding and refine current social policies.

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Presented in Session 13: Determinants of sub-national differences in HIV prevalence