September 15, 2003
HIV-1 infected women were an average of 1.4 years older than seronegative women. At Sibanor, a rural site, HIV-1 prevalence was significantly higher among Senegalese women compared with Gambian women, a difference not observed at other sites. HIV-2 infected women were an average of 2.1 years older than seronegative women.
"Fifteen years after the first case of HIV-1, the prevalence is still low in The Gambia, and the same is true in Senegal," the researchers wrote. The scientists cite male circumcision -- nearly universal in The Gambia -- as a protective factor along with the lower incidence of herpes simplex virus type 2 in The Gambia as compared to East Africa. "HIV-1 prevalences have been lowest in Muslim countries of North Africa and The Middle East," the authors noted, "and this is likely to be linked to sexual behavior. As over 95 percent of the Gambian population is Muslim, the same reasons could underlie the low prevalence in Senegal and The Gambia. Studies on sexual behavior in The Gambia are needed to interpret the low prevalence further," the authors concluded.