AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 21, Supplement 1, pp 101–113 | Cite as

The HIV Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa is Aging: Evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Sebastian Vollmer
  • Kenneth Harttgen
  • Tobias Alfven
  • Jude Padayachy
  • Peter Ghys
  • Till Bärnighausen
Original Paper


We use the individual-level data from all available Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 27 sub-Saharan African countries conducted between 2003 and 2012 (40 population-based and nationally representative surveys in total) to calculate HIV testing consent rates and HIV prevalence for each country separately, as well as for the pooled sample. The pooled sample comprised of 427,130 individuals. In most countries HIV prevalence in adults aged 45 years and above is higher than in the total population. We further show that over the past decade HIV prevalence has increased in older age groups, while it has decreased in younger ones. While the age patterns of HIV consent rates vary across the 27 countries included in our sample, analysis of the pooled sample across all countries reveals a u-shaped relationship with lowest consent rates around age 35 years and higher consent rates among younger and older people. We argue that future DHS and other population-based HIV surveys should offer HIV testing to all adults without age limits.


HIV Aging Sub-Saharan Africa 



SV, KH and TB received funding for this work from UNAIDS. TB received funding from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation through the Alexander von Humboldt professor award, and from NICHD of NIH (R01-HD084233) and NIAID of NIH (R01-AI124389 and R01-AI112339).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. The DHS data-collection procedures were approved by the ICF International (Calverton, MD, USA) institutional review board and by the relevant human subjects committees in each country.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Vollmer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kenneth Harttgen
    • 3
  • Tobias Alfven
    • 4
  • Jude Padayachy
    • 4
  • Peter Ghys
    • 4
  • Till Bärnighausen
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Global Health and PopulationHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Harvard University 665 Huntington AvenueBostonUSA
  3. 3.ETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.UNAIDSGenevaSwitzerland
  5. 5.Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Heath and Population StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalKwazulu-NatalSouth Africa
  6. 6.Institute of Public HealthUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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