Report on a Study of Women Living with HIV in Egypt, the Egyptian Society for Population Studies and Reproductive Health, 2007.

Although HIV infection rates have not reached alarming levels in most countries of the MENA Region, there has been a steady increase in the number of estimated cases of HIV infections. A number of country-specific studies that have been conducted have emphasize the importance of constructing culturally-specific models of coping, with awareness raising and health service delivery to better meet the needs of societies in the region in confronting the challenges of HIV-AIDS. In Egypt, like most MENA countries, the AIDS epidemic is still in its early stages, which boosts the chances that effective prevention efforts culminate further spread of the virus. Currently, HIV and AIDS is not viewed as a serious public health problem in Egypt; however, the number of reported cases (widely recognized as under-representative) has been on a steady rise. Furthermore, there is research evidence that behaviors generally associated with an HIV epidemic exists, but is largely hidden. There is also evidence of high rates of reproductive tract infections, some of which are sexually transmitted. Condoms are unpopular and rarely used. Low HIV prevalence in the case of Egypt can lead to being complacent in allocating the financial and human resources needed to combat the spread of HIV. Prevention programmes designed for the particular needs of women and girls are badly needed in view of the fact that women are physiologically more vulnerable to sexual HIV transmission than men. For the most part, HIV prevention strategies have yet to grapple effectively with the gender dimensions of HIV prevention and treatment. At the same time, women face a host of social, economic and legal disadvantages that severely limit their ability to protect themselves against HIV infection. It must be noted, however, that inadequate surveillance data could mean that significant HIV outbreaks in some groups most at risk of HIV infection transmissions (e.g. injecting drug users) are being missed. In fact, most recent surveillance data (HIV/AIDS Bio-SS Egypt, 2006) suggests an HIV prevalence of 5% or higher in most of these groups (MOHP-NAP / FHI IMPACT and USAID, 2006)
Author(s): Hind Khattab , Mervat El Guneidy , Nadine Karraze Shorbagi , Naglaa El Nahal  
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