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A Tale of Two Countries: HIV Among Core Groups in Togo

Sobéla, Francois MD; Pépin, Jacques MD; Gbéléou, Sesso; Banla, Abiba Kéré MD; Pitche, Vincent Palokinam MD; Adom, Wiyoou MD; Sodji, Dométo MSc; Frost, Eric PhD; Deslandes, Sylvie MSc; Labbé, Annie-Claude MD

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: June 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 2 - p 216-223
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31819c170f
Epidemiology and Social Science

Objective: To describe the epidemiology of HIV among core groups in Togo.

Methods: We enumerated sex workers (SWs) and conducted cross-sectional surveys of SWs and their clients in 2003 in Lomé and in 2005 in the whole country.

Results: Sex work was concentrated in Lomé, which comprised 15% of the population, but 52% of the 5397 SWs enumerated in Togo in 2005 and 68% of the estimated 101,376 men who had bought sex in the year before the 2005 survey. HIV prevalence among SWs was highest in Lomé (45.4% in 2005) and progressively decreased from south to north. A similar geographical pattern was seen for clients (8.3% were HIV infected in Lomé in 2005) and had already been reported for pregnant women. In Lomé, the population attributable fraction of prevalent cases of HIV acquired during transactional sex was estimated at 32%; in the rest of the country, this was only 2%.

Conclusions: This is the first study quantifying sex work at a national level in Africa. Variations in HIV prevalence within Togo, with a north-south gradient among SWs, their clients, and pregnant women, may to a large extent reflect the concentration of the sex trade within Lomé. Prostitution played only a modest a role in HIV dynamics outside Lomé.

From the *Centre de Santé Internationale de l'Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; †Projet Sida 3, Lomé, Togo; ‡Institut National d' Hygiène, Lomé, Togo; §Programme National de Lutte contre le Sida et les Infections Sexuellement Transmissibles, Lomé, Togo; ‖Université de Lomé, Lome, Togo; ¶Forces en Action pour le Mieux-Être de la Mère et de l'Enfant (FAMME), Lomé, Togo; #Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montréal, Canada; and **Département de Microbiologie et d' Immunologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.

Received for publication July 31, 2008; accepted January 9, 2009.

Supported by funding from the Canadian International Development Agency.

Authors' contribution: F.S., J.P., and A.C.L. designed the study. F.S., S.G., V.P.P., W.A., D.M., and A.C.L. contributed to the study implementation. A.K.B., E.F., and S.D. performed the laboratory assays. J.P. and F.S. obtained funding. J.P. analyzed the data and wrote the first draft of the article. All authors participated in the revision of subsequent versions of the article and approved its final version.

Conflict of interest: none.

Correspondence to: Dr. Jacques Pepin, MD, CHUS, 3001, 12th Avenue North, Sherbrooke, Quebec, J1H 5N4 Canada (e-mail:

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