Almost three decades after its discovery, HIV infection remains the number one killer disease in Sub-Saharan Africa where up to 2 million people are still living with the virus. In Cameroon, a health survey carried out in 2004 estimated the national prevalence at 5.5% with women and youths being predominantly infected. Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) from HIV/AIDS have been on the rise in recent years. This high prevalence rate is also due to the country’s lack of a system that observes records and disseminates reports on new cases of HIV and AIDS. The surveillance system used in Cameroon is based on international standards because they are yet to develop a system of their own. Outbreaks easily go unnoticed as a result of the utilization of poor surveillance systems. Consequently, fear of HIV/AIDS has caused a sense of deliberate ignorance in the attitude of the general population. This results in people not wanting to know about their HIV status probably because of fear of stigmatization. In one decade, 1987 to 1998, the number of persons in a population who tested positive for HIV rose from 0,5% to 7.2%. Between the year 1985 and 2002, the disease accounted for up to 53000 deaths where 210,000 orphans and one million people living with HIV. As a whole, women were more vulnerable with statistic displaying three infected women to every two infected men. A demographic Health Survey that was carried out in Cameroon around same time frame pointed out that the HIV virus was primarily infecting youths and women. Commercial sex workers alongside with other borderline groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users are often labeled as 'high risk group' for HIV/AIDS. Whether or not commercial sex workers are the driving force behind the high HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country is still a debate of interest. Sensitization to the adverse effects of HIV/AIDS in Cameroon has been an effective preventive measure over the last few years. It was appraised that over 90% of the population, both rural and urban, now know about the detrimental effects of HIV/AIDS, its transmission mechanisms and prevention methods.
Background of Cameroon
Cameroon is located in central Africa with a surface area of 475,500 sq.km. It is bounded on the North by Chad, on the West by Nigeria, on the South by Gabon and Congo, and on the East by the Central African Republic. The estimated population in 2010 (based on United Nations sources) was 18,175,000. Cameroon is undergoing a fast demographic transition with 50% of its total population now living in urban areas. Administratively, the country is divided into 10 provinces. The provinces are equally divided into Divisions, which are further divided into Sub-Divisions; and finally Districts. Yaoundé is the country’s administrative capital and Douala is the economic capital with an average income per capita ranging from US$ 600-650. The life expectancy at birth for male and female is 50 and 52 years respectively. Currently, the probability of dying under age five (per 1 000 live births) is estimated at 149 and the probability of dying between 15 and 60 years for male and female (per 1 000 population) is 451 and 422 respectively. Total expenditure on health per capita in 2006 was 80 international dollars (Mosoko et al., 2003). The HIV epidemic in central Africa is very unusual. This is because there is a predominance of heterosexual transmission, large differences in prevalence between rural and urban, and the importance of sexually transmissible disease as facilitating factors for HIV transmission. Compared to Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria have reported a discrepancy between high genetic diversity and low prevalence of HIV Type 1(HIV-1) group (Hargreaves et al., 2002).
Background of Outbreak:
The first HIV diagnosis in Cameroon was reported...