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Medical News

Harvard University: Muslim Areas in Africa Have Lower Rates of HIV Infection

May 17, 2004

P.B. Gray and colleagues at Harvard University found that "religious constraints on sexuality may have consequences for the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases." "Recognizing that several Islamic tenets may have the effect, if followed, of reducing the sexual transmission of HIV," the investigators tested "the hypothesis that Muslims have lower HIV prevalence than non-Muslims."

The researchers found that among 38 sub-Saharan African countries, the percentage of Muslims in the population negatively predicted HIV prevalence. "A survey of published journal articles containing data on HIV prevalence and religious affiliation showed that six of seven such studies indicated a negative relationship between HIV prevalence and being Muslim," the study stated.

"Additional studies on the relationship of risk factors to HIV prevalence gave mixed evidence with respect to following Islamic sexual codes (e.g., vs. extramarital affairs) and other factors," the authors wrote, but revealed that "benefits arising from circumcision may help account for lower HIV prevalence among Muslims," they concluded.

The report, "HIV and Islam: Is HIV Prevalence Lower Among Muslims?" appeared in Social Science & Medicine (2004;58(9):1751-1756).

Back to other news for May 17, 2004

Adapted from:
AIDS Weekly & Law

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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