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Resource Information Center: Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso

Response to Information Request Number:BFA98001.znk
Date:21 July 1998
Subject:Burkina Faso: HIV Positive People; Domestic Violence
From:INS Resource Information Center, Washington, DC
Keywords:HIV-infected persons / AIDS / People with AIDS / Burkina Faso / Violence Against Women


1)  Are HIV positive people ostracized in Burkina Faso?

2)  What is the status of domestic violence in Burkina Faso?


AIDS/HIV in Burkina Faso

People who are HIV positive in Burkina Faso are driven into hiding. HIV positive people are rejected by society and can live a neglected, impoverished life because of the fear that society has of people who are HIV positive or suffering from AIDS. People do not reveal their illness out of fear of repercussions and this same fear keeps people from being tested for the virus.

The nature of the migrant population coupled with prostitution have led to the spread of the disease in Burkina Faso. Men residing temporarily in other countries as migrant workers, engage in unprotected sex with prostitutes, contract the virus, then return home and infect their spouse or partner (PANA 24 December 1997). Statistics show that 65% of the prostitutes in Bobo Dioulasso are HIV positive (IPS 21 November 1995). People don’t have the courage to take the test at the risk of losing their dignity. People who have the virus are viewed as having loose morals. Moreover, treating people with AIDS is beyond the means of the Burkina Faso government. The cost of drugs like AZT that treat AIDS symptoms are extremely expensive, at US $1200 a month, and beyond the reach of most Burkinabes (IPS 3 February 1998). On average, the cost of treating a person with AIDS costs more than the annual cost of educating 10 primary school children (PANA 31 December 1997).

Approximately 7% of the 10 million Burkinabes are HIV-positive. The number of registered AIDS cases has risen dramatically in the past 5 years. Although anonymous AIDS testing is available at two HIV testing centers in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso, only 255 people have come forward to be tested at the centers for the virus out of fear of disclosure. Some people have the attitude that there is no reason to know as nothing can be done and that certain death is the outcome of having the disease. There is a grassroots association in Burkina Faso known as "Raid Plus" whose purpose is to assist HIV-infected persons (IPS February 1998).

Battered Spouses

The RIC did not find much information on battered spouses other than that mentioned in the 1997 Country Reports published by the U.S. State Department. Page 25 of the report states that "violence against women, especially wife beating, occurs occasionally and that cases of wife beating are usually handled through customary law and practice."

The RIC spoke with the Africa Faith and Justice Network and was informed that spousal abuse is not uncommon in African countries. Uganda is the only African country with a spousal rape law. Most abuse is undocumented and/or unreported in most countries (AFJN 19 May 1998). The RIC will continue to research the issue of domestic violence.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Africa Faith and Justice Network. 19 May 1998. Telephone interview with researcher.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 1997. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Inter Press Service. 21 November 1995. Abdoulaye Gandema. "Burkina Faso: Desperate Sex Workers Defy Mayor’s Clean Up." (Westlaw)

3 February 1998. Abdoulaye Gandema. "Human Rights Burkina Faso: HIV Means Rejection Unless You Hide It." (Westlaw)

Panafrican News Agency. 24 December 1997. Peter Masebu. "Migration Turns Into AIDS Trap In Africa." [Internet] <URL:>.

31 December 1997. Peter Masebu. "Government Urges to Prioritize HIV Prevention Among Risks Groups." [Internet] <URL:>.

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