Issuu on Google+

Comparative Background Analysis of HIV/AIDS in the United States, Turkey, and Malawi Katharine Yang [26 April 2013]

Created for Global Urban Lab Rice University: School of Social Sciences & Kinder Institute for Urban Research


Table of Contents

Table of Contents .......................................................................................................................................... 1 Executive Summary........................................................................................ Error! Bookmark not defined. Report ............................................................................................................ Error! Bookmark not defined. The Issue .................................................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined. The Research .............................................................................................. Error! Bookmark not defined. The Findings ............................................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined. Prevalence ............................................................................................................................................. 4 Incidence ............................................................................................................................................... 6 Modes of Transmission ......................................................................................................................... 7 Regions of HIV Concentration ............................................................................................................... 8 Cost of Care ........................................................................................................................................... 9 Conclusions and Implications.................................................................................................................... 9 Acknowledgements...................................................................................... 1Error! Bookmark not defined. Bibliography ................................................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined.

1|Page


Executive Summary HIV/AIDS is a worldwide pandemic that as of 2009 has caused almost 30 million deaths. It continues to spread internationally at a rapid rate. In this study, I focus on HIV/AIDS in three countries—the United States, Turkey and Malawi. I find significant differences in the prevalence rates, incidence, and modes of transmission in these countries. Adult prevalence rates are up to 11% in Malawi, compared to 0.6% and 0.1% in the U.S. and Turkey, respectively. In the US, the predominant mode of transmission is homosexual relationships, whereas in Turkey and Malawi, heterosexual relationships account for the majority of new cases per year. In light of these results, I discuss verified and speculative reasons behind the differences in these three countries, and conclude that the overall most effective method to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS is further awareness through education.

2|Page


Report I.

The Issue

Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a worldwide pandemic that as of 2009 has caused almost 30 million deaths, and continues to spread internationally at a rapid rate. In this study, I focus on HIV/AIDS in the United States, Turkey, and Malawi. Aside from just affecting the health of its victims, HIV/AIDS impacts the quality of life, the ability to find employment, as well as the economic factors of a country—such as its GDP, employment rate, and poverty level. Evaluating trends in prevalence (number of existing cases per population per year) and incidence (number of new cases per population per year) over time in countries with HIV/AIDS is important in understanding the reasons behind the spread and to address needs for elimination of the disease. However, the method of addressing HIV/AIDS is different for every country based on its specific economic circumstances, culture, and government policy. According to the World System Theory, there are 3 categories of countries—core, semi-periphery, and periphery countries. For this study, I am interested in comparing HIV presence, mode of transmission, and vulnerable populations for one country of each category—the United States, Turkey, and Malawi, respectively. Doing so can provide clues as to how HIV prevention efforts should be tailored to countries of these different categories. II.

The Research

Adult HIV Prevalence rates from US, Turkey, and Malawi were collected from the CIA World Factbooks 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, and 2009. The data of estimated number of adults and children living with HIV was collected from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 2011 Global HIV/AIDS Report. Statistics on the number of new cases of HIV in each country were collected from the UNAIDS, the Centralized Information System for Infectious Diseases (CISID), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO) that is responsible for collecting statistics for European countries, and the Center of Disease Control (CDC), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. Research conducted on the common modes of transmission in the three countries were collected from the CDC for the United States, and from public health literature for Malawi, and from literature research and in-person interviews conducted with Dr. Pinar Ay, MD, a public health physician at the Marmara University of Medicine, and Dr. Hayat Kumbasar Karaosmanoglu, MD, an infectious diseases physician at the Haseki Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul, which oversees over 350 HIV patients in Turkey. III.

The Findings

The United States, Turkey, and Malawi each have battles against HIV/AIDS. Population, among other factors such as economy, poverty, healthcare, and social stigma, is a key factor in 3|Page


considering the differences in HIV/AIDS prevalence and background in each country. As depicted by Figure 1, the United States has a population of 313,232,044, Turkey, a population of 78,785,548, and Malawi, a population of 15,879,252, as of July 2011 (National Foreign Assessment Center (U.S.) and United States. Central Intelligence Agency.) Understanding the population is important for making analyses of the countries’ HIV statuses. In the following tables, HIV prevalence rates, prevalence, and incidence of the three countries are compared. Population in the US, Turkey, and Malawi 350

Population (millions)

300 250 200 150 100 50 0 US

Turkey

Malawi

Country

Figure 1. Populations of US, Turkey, and Malawi

Prevalence The prevalence rates of adult HIV/AIDS in the United States, Turkey, and Malawi are displayed in Figure 2. Though Malawi has the smallest population of the three countries, its prevalence has consistently been higher than those of the United States and Turkey, with a rate of 16% in 1999, which has steadily decreased to 11% in 2009, due to large efforts internally and from international humanitarian aid in the country ("Global Report: Unaids Report on the Global Aids Epidemic 2012"). The United States and Turkey on the other hand, have remained relatively steady at a prevalence rate of 0.6% and 0.1%, respectively over 1999-2009 (National Foreign Assessment Center (U.S.) and United States. Central Intelligence Agency.). From Figure 2, it can be seen that Malawi’s prevalence is more than ten fold greater than the US’s prevalence, and more than 100 fold greater than Turkey’s prevalence. As a result, HIV/AIDS is a much more urgent problem in Malawi than in the United States or Turkey. With a HIV prevalence of about 0.6%, the United States still stands with 6 fold greater HIV prevalence than Turkey, at less than 0.1%. Turkish people, from ordinary citizens to municipal experts, do not think HIV is of concern at all and does not need to be addressed because the recorded prevalence is less than 0.1%.

4|Page


HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate 18 16 14 Malawi

Percentage

12

Turkey 10

US Linear (Malawi)

8

Linear (US ) 6

Linear (Turkey)

4 2 0 1998

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

Year

Figure 2. HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence rate in the U.S., Turkey, and Malawi from 1999-2009 (National Foreign Assessment Center (U.S.) and United States. Central Intelligence Agency.)

Estimated Adults and Children Living with HIV

Number of people living with HIV

1,400,000 1,200,000 1,000,000 800,000

Malawi Turkey US

600,000 400,000 200,000 0 1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Year

Figure 3. Estimated Number of Adults and Children living with HIV in U.S., Turkey, and Malawi ("Global Report: Unaids Report on the Global Aids Epidemic 2012")

Though the results from Figure 3 indicate that the number of HIV cases are growing more slowly in Malawi and growing at the same pace in the United States and Turkey, the estimated number of adults and children with HIV in the United States and Malawi were still increasing significantly between 1990 and 2009. In the United States, the number of people living with HIV was 810,000 in 1900 and 1,300,000 in 2011, a 61% increase, while in Malawi, the statistics were 360,000 and 910,000 in 1900 and 2011, respectively, a 152% increase. 5|Page


In Turkey, the estimated number of HIV-infected people was dramatically lower and relatively constant, indicating that its individual spread is not nearly as rapid as the spread in the other two countries. Despite the fact that Turkey’s numbers are not considered serious, its estimated number of HIV-infected people was 200 in 1990 and increased to 5500 in 2011. Incidence In the United States, the number of new HIV cases each year has been relatively constant, staying around 50,000 since the 1990s (Hall et al.), while the number of new HIV cases in Turkey and Malawi have witnessed more fluctuations. Figure 3 shows how Malawi had an estimated 79,000 new cases in 1990, which rapidly increased to 100,000 new cases by 1997. This number began to drop in 2004 and by 2011, the number of new cases in 2011 had dropped to 46,000 ("Global Report: Unaids Report on the Global Aids Epidemic 2012"). The number of new cases in Turkey, on the other hand, was 2 to 3 magnitudes below that of Malawi, beginning with 4 reported cases in 1985 to 653 cases in 2011 (CISID). Though small in number, the exponential growth of HIV in Turkey is concerning. Dr. Pınar Ay from the Marmara University School of Medicine in Istanbul says that the “situation is not urgent, but deserves attention and awareness.” Data of new cases in Turkey can be seen in Figure 3. Incidence of HIV in Malawi

Number of Adults and Children newly infected with HIV

120000

100000

80000

60000

40000

20000

0 1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Year

Figure 4. Number of HIV cases in Malawi from 1990-2011

6|Page


Number of HIV cases in Turkey 700 600

Number of cases

500 400 300 200 100 0 1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Year

Figure 5. Number of new HIV cases in Turkey from 1985-2011

Modes of Transmission The predominant modes of transmission in each of the three countries are also notably different. In the United States, men having sex with men (MSM) accounted for 63% of new HIV reported cases in 2010, heterosexual intercourse accounted for 25% of cases, Intravenous Drug Use (IDU) accounted 8% of causes, and joint MSM-IDU accounted for 3% of cases (National Center for HIV/AIDS "New Infections in the United States"). Modes of Transmission in Turkey (2010)

Modes of New HIV Infections in the United States (2010) 1%

Heterosexual sex

3%

30%

Heterosexual

8% Men having sex with men (MSM)

Men having sex with men (MSM)

57%

Intravenous drug users (IDU)

4% Other

9%

Figure 6. Modes of Transmission in Turkey

Intravenous Drug Usage (IDU)

25% 63%

MSM-IDU Other

Figure 7. Modes of Transmission in the US

In Turkey, according to the Ministry of Health, heterosexual intercourse is the mode of transmission that contributes most greatly to HIV/AIDS, at 57%, followed by MSM at 9%, and intravenous drug users at 4%. According to Dr. Hayat Kumbasar Karaosmanoglu, monogamous housewives are the greatest victim of HIV/AIDS in Turkey, because their husbands may be in homosexual relationships, or may be sleeping with sex workers who are infected with HIV. Furthermore, HIV is seen as a homosexual disease in Turkey, and because of the lack of 7|Page


awareness of the true nature of transmission, monogamous housewives do not believe they could ever be at risk of HIV. Many sex workers in Turkey come from Eastern Europe, Soviet Union countries, and East Turkey (which is more impoverished than the West) and are more likely to be unregistered workers. Being unregistered, these sex workers do not have access to regular screenings and health care services that are available to registered sex workers, putting many clients and clients’ families at risk. In Malawi, unprotected heterosexual intercourse is again the predominant mode of transmission, with 80% of new infections occurring among partners in stable relationships, mainly because of multiple and concurrent sexual partners and discordance in long-term couples (MalawiGovernment). The second common mode of transmission, responsible for the continual spread of HIV, is mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) ("2008 Country Profile: Malawi"). In 2010, 10.6% of pregnant women were HIV-positive, which was formerly 22.8% in 1999. As of 2011, only 28% of HIV-exposed children in Malawi undergo antiretroviral therapy, making the HIV transmission MTCT a large problem in the country. Regions of HIV Concentration For all three countries, HIV is more prevalent in urban areas than in suburban or rural areas. In the United States, the coastal areas such as California, Texas, the states lining the Gulf of Mexico, and the states along the East Coast have the highest prevalence, ranging from 319.4428.0 per 100,000 in California, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama, to 428.1-3,365.2 per 100,000 in New York, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida in 2008. In 2010, the Northeast reported the highest incidence rate of AIDS diagnoses (14.2/100,000), followed by the South (13.0/100,000), the West (8.8/100,000), and the Midwest (6.3/100,000) (National Center for HIV/AIDS "Hiv and Aids in the United States by Geographic Distribution"). In Turkey, according to Dr. Karaosmanoglu, the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS is, likewise, in urban areas such as Istanbul, followed by Ankara and İzmir—the root of the spread coming from sex workers who have immigrated to the region from Eastern Europe. The stigma of HIV in Turkey is so significant that many patients do not even share the news with their family or friends. From her experiences speaking with her patients and understanding the HIV population in Istanbul, Dr. Karaosmanoglu says many patients turn to her and her colleagues and not their family or friends to share their feelings and thoughts—“We [physicians] are family to them.” In Malawi, HIV prevalence in urban areas is twice that of rural areas. 17% of people aged 15-49 in urban areas are infected with HIV compared to 9% in rural areas, with 22.7% of urban 8|Page


women infected with HIV, compared to 10.5% of rural women ("2008 Country Profile: Malawi"). Cost of Care In the United States, the average cost of HIV treatment per year is more than $20,000 per person (Program). Upon diagnosis, the annual cost will continue for the rest of the patient’s life as HIV is a chronic disease. However, free or low-cost care is available for low-income and uninsured individuals. In Turkey, all HIV patients’ health care is covered by the government under their recently modified universal health care system. In Malawi, the cost of care itself is heavily subsidized by the government; however, the brunt of the cost for care is travel-related expenses. For those who receive centralized care (in urban hospitals or clinics), 60% pay to use a mini-bus to reach the clinic, while among those who receive decentralized care (such as in rural clinics), only 4% use a mini-bus and 96% remainder travel by foot or bicycle (Pinto et al.). Participants in both centralized care and decentralized care clinics report having other out-of-pocket costs for food (100% and 88%, respectively) and for missing work (9% and 16%, respectively). IV.

Conclusions and Implications

The cross-comparative analysis of the prevalence, incidence, dominant modes of transmission, and cost of care of HIV/AIDS in the United States, Turkey, and Malawi, provides enlightening evidence of how an infectious disease can afflicts core, semi-periphery, and periphery country. From the results above, I will make speculative analyses into why such disparities exist. As of 2009, Malawi has a high HIV prevalence rate of 11%, meaning more than 1 out of every 10 individuals in the country has HIV (National Foreign Assessment Center (U.S.) and United States. Central Intelligence Agency.). Though Malawi has the smallest population out of the three, it faces a HIV prevalence rate significantly higher than those of Turkey and the U.S. The virus is an epidemic in Malawi, which is why much research and effort have been in place to alleviate the disease burden. Among the many reasons that contribute to high prevalence include knowledge insufficiency regarding HIV, cost of medical care, and the availability of quality medical care. In the Central District of Malawi, only 66% of surveyed women between 15-49 knew that condoms can be prevent HIV transmission, only 83% knew that limiting sexual intercourse to one uninfected partner who is also exclusive can prevent HIV transmission, and only 76% knew that abstaining from sex can prevent HIV (Malawi. National Statistical Office. and ICF Macro (Firm)). Among all surveyed men in the Central District, 73% knew that condoms can prevent HIV, 83% knew that limiting sexual intercourse to one uninfected partner who is also exclusive can prevent HIV, and only 74% knew that abstinence can prevent HIV. Regarding MTCT, only 72% of women and 58% of men in the Central District knew that HIV can be transmitted by 9|Page


breastfeeding and risk of MTCT can be reduced by the mother taking drugs during pregnancy. Thus, this lack of knowledge may result in parents not taking their children to health care facilities even if they knew they had HIV and/or even if they had the means to get antenatal care for their HIV-exposed children. Additionally, as mentioned in the Results section, cost of transportation or loss of workdays can often stop HIV-exposed adults, pregnant women, and children from accessing the care needed for proper prevention, treatment, and education. Furthermore, another dire problem is the lack of enough healthcare providers in Malawi. According to the World Health Organization, there are only 2 physicians and 38 nurses per 100,000 people, thus severely limiting access to HIV healthcare (World Health Organization). Compared to HIV in Malawi and the United States, HIV in Turkey is almost negligible. One reason behind such a low comparative prevalence could be the fact that the Islam religion which is predominant in Turkey promotes conservative sexual practices among its believers; thus, leading to more monogamous sexual relationships in the country. The fact that the primary mode of HIV transmission in Turkey is through monogamous heterosexual relationships is an indication that the main problem lies within the lack of awareness of the nature of HIV. The belief that HIV is a homosexual disease prevents larger numbers of monogamous women to deny HIV status, not get tested, and not question their husband’s behavior. Another reason Turkey has a lower prevalence could be that its immigrants are mainly from the Eastern European and Asian continents, whereas American immigrants come from all over the world, thereby Turkey has a lower chance of introducing the virus. Another reason that could the prevalence and incidence rates of HIV are so much lower in Turkey is that they could be underreported, or that data was not reported. In Izmir, the third most populous city in Turkey, however, a study proved that the HIV notification rate was 100%, indicating that underreporting may not be a problem (Durusoy and Karababa). Notification rates in other cities and rural areas have yet to be studied to confirm validity of statistics. Though HIV transmission in Turkey is minimal compared to that of Malawi, the number of new HIV cases in Turkey over the course of two decades has increased exponentially. Though it is not as pressing as other infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B, it is not an issue that should be ignored due to its small magnitude, but an issue of concern that should be watched over and publicized so that future spread can be mitigated. In the United States, the majority of new HIV cases in the United States derive from homosexual relationships, while the predominant mode of transmission in both Turkey and Malawi are heterosexual relationships. This discrepancy is partially due to the fact that the people in Turkey and Malawi are not well-informed about HIV, and often associate HIV with homosexuals, whereas in the United States, sexual education starting usually starting from late elementary school or middle school years teach students about safe sex or abstinence practices. The relatively better education most likely lowers the rate of heterosexual transmission compared to the rates in Turkey or Malawi. However, the number of individuals living with HIV in the US is still relatively high. In examining the map below made by the WHO, the United States has a similar range of HIV 10 | P a g e


infected individuals as many Sub-Saharan countries and India. The reason behind such a high number is that more and more HIV patients in the United States are living longer because of greater technology and medications that have increased their life expectancies. Unfortunately, HIV patients in sub-Saharan African countries have not witnessed the same advances.

Figure 8. Estimated number of people in the world living with HIV/AIDS ((UNAIDS))

Furthermore, the second most common mode of transmission of HIV in Malawi is the vertical mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), which is almost unheard of in the United States and Turkey, where almost all transmission in horizontal. Because there is a shortage of medical care in Malawi for the population, many mothers do not get tested for HIV, miss out on antenatal care, and thus, fail to prevent MTCT. The differences in modes of transmission and attitudes toward HIV imply that different methods must be employed to address HIV in each of these countries. For the US, more education and attention needs to be directed to homosexual populations; for Turkey, more education and attention needs to be directed to heterosexual couples; and for Malawi, more education, attention, and medical resources need to be available for heterosexual couples and pregnant or potentially pregnant women. Further research should be conducted to address how policies, education efforts, and healthcare reform can be shaped to address the problems that each country faces. Yet in the end, the most fundamental and consistent solution for all three countries is to educate all individuals about what is HIV, how to prevent HIV, and what can be done to treat HIV at a young age. By educating members of society at a young age, people learn to address HIV at each stage of disease, whether it is prevention, testing, or treatment.

11 | P a g e


Acknowledgements This research project would not have been possible without the support of many people. I would like to thank Ipek Martinez, the Associate Dean of Rice University’s Social Sciences Department and Director of the Gateway Program and Abbey Godley, the Gateway Administrator, who both coordinated the Global Urban Lab class and made my trip to Istanbul, Turkey incredibly unique and inspiring. I also wish to thank Dr. Michael Emerson, my faculty mentor, who provided valuable insights and feedback throughout every stage of my research project. I am also incredibly grateful to Dr. Pınar Ay, a public health physician at the Marmara Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi (School of Medicine) in Istanbul for sharing with me her frontline HIV research and Dr. Hayat Kumbasar Karaosmanoğlu, an infectious diseases physician at the Haseki Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul for sharing with me her firsthand experiences of her patient encounters.

12 | P a g e


Bibliography "2008 Country Profile: Malawi." Malawians and Americans In Partnership to Fight HIV/AIDS, 2008. Print. "Global Report: Unaids Report on the Global Aids Epidemic 2012." WHO Library: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 2012. 110. Print. (UNAIDS), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. "Global Report: Unaids Report on the Global Aids Epidemic: 2008." WHO Library2008. Print. CISID. "Hiv - Number of Cases in Turkey." CISID, WHO, 1990-2011. Print. Durusoy, R., and A. O. Karababa. "Completeness of Hepatitis, Brucellosis, Syphilis, Measles and Hiv/Aids Surveillance in Izmir, Turkey." BMC Public Health 10 (2010): 71. Print. Hall, H. I., et al. "Estimation of Hiv Incidence in the United States." JAMA 300.5 (2008): 520-9. Print. Malawi. National Statistical Office., and ICF Macro (Firm). Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, 2010. Zomba, Malawi Calverton, Md., USA: National Statistical Office ; ICF Macro, 2011. Print. MalawiGovernment. "2012 Global Aids Response Progress Report: Malawi Country Report for 2010 and 2011." 2012. Print. National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. "Hiv and Aids in the United States by Geographic Distribution." (2012). Print. ---. "New Infections in the United States." (2012). Print. National Foreign Assessment Center (U.S.), and United States. Central Intelligence Agency. "The World Factbook." Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 2011. Print. ---. "The World Factbook." Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009. Print. ---. "The World Factbook." Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013. Print. Pinto, A. D., et al. "Patient Costs Associated with Accessing Hiv/Aids Care in Malawi." J Int AIDS Soc 16.1 (2013): 18055. Print. Program, Texas Department of State Health Services HIV/STD. "An Overview of Hiv in Texas." (2012). Print. World Health Organization. Who Country Cooperation Strategy: Myanmar. World Health Organization, 2012. Print.

13 | P a g e


Comparative background hivaids