HIV/AIDS and the health of older people in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya: results from a cross sectional survey

Kyobutungi, Catherine; Ezeh, Alex C.; Zulu, Eliya; Falkingham, Jane
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: The proportion of older people is increasing worldwide. Globally, it is estimated that older people (those 60 years or older) constitute more than 11% of the population. As the HIV/AIDS pandemic rages in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), its impact on older people needs closer attention given the increased economic and social roles older people have taken on as a result of increased mortality among adults in the productive age groups. Few studies have looked at older people and their health in SSA or indeed the impact of HIV/AIDS on their health. This study aims to assess the effect of being directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS on the health of older people in two Nairobi slums. Methods: Data were collected from residents of the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance area aged 50 years and above on 1st October 2006. Health status was assessed using the short SAGE (Study on Global AGEing and Adult Health) form and two outcome measures - self-rated health and a composite health score - were generated. To assess HIV/AIDS affected status, respondents were asked: Have you personally been affected by HIV/AIDS? If yes, a follow up question: "How have you been personally affected by HIV/AIDS?" was asked. Ordinal0-logistic regression was used in models with self-rated health and linear regression in models with the health score. Results: About 18% of respondents reported being affected by HIV/AIDS in at least one way, although less than 1% reported being infected with HIV. Nearly 60% of respondents reported being in good health, 27% in fair health and 14% in poor health. The overall mean health score was 70.6 (SD: 13.9) with females reporting worse health outcomes than males. Respondents directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS reported worse health outcomes than those not affected: mean health score: 68.5 and 71.1 respectively (t = 3.21, p = 0.0007), and an adjusted odds ratio of reporting poor health of 1.42 (95%CI: 1.12-1.80). Conclusion: Poor health outcomes among older people affected by HIV/AIDS highlight the need for policies that target them in the fight against HIV/AIDS if they are to play their envisaged care giving and other traditional roles.


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