There were 94 000 [72 000 - 120 000] people living with HIV in Burkina Faso in 2017. The HIV prevalence rate among adults aged 15 to 49 was 0.8%.

4300 [2600 - 6700] people became newly infected with HIV in 2017 and there were 2900 [1900 - 4100] AIDS-related deaths, a fall of 46% since 2010. It is estimated that 65% [49 – 82] of people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines. However, only 28% [18 - 36] of children aged 0 to 14 years old have access to antiretrovirals.

Among pregnant women living with HIV, 92% [63 - >95] have access to treatment to prevent transmission of HIV to their children. All health districts are covered by prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programmes.

Key populations continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV in Burkina Faso. Sex workers are estimated to have an HIV prevalence of 5.4%; prisoners 2.2%; gay men and other men who have sex with men 1.9%.

Visit the Burkina Faso country page for more data and related resources.

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Health and safety: sex workers reaching out to sex workers

Leaving the meeting of the REVS PLUS nongovernmental organization, the women bid each other farewell, saying, “A demain soir (See you tomorrow night).” They had gathered at a health drop-in centre that also acts as a network hub for various HIV networks in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, to discuss the following evening’s plan: HIV testing among their peers at selected sites.

“We share our experiences and act as confidantes,” said Camille Traoré (not her real name), a sex worker and peer educator. Her colleague, Julienne Diabré (not her real name), wearing a long flowing dress, chimed in, “In our line of work, it’s hard to confide in someone, so confidentiality is key.”

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For the past four months, Benjamin Sana has been regularly attending the Oasis Clinic in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where he sees a doctor who gives him a full check-up.

The doctor and peer educators also check whether Mr Sana has any questions regarding his pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen. PrEP is taken by people who are HIV-negative but at higher risk of infection, and has proved to be very effective at keeping people free from HIV.

“Two plus one plus one,” answers Mr Sana, referring to when he needs to take the pills—two pills two hours before sex, then one the day after and one again the following day or one a day until his last sexual encounter. After his check-up, the 34-year-old gay man said, “PrEP protects me and I feel reassured.” He still uses condoms and lubricant, but when he doesn’t he said he feels safer.

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Towering over a throng of young people, Christine Kafando peppers the crowd with questions.

“Do you feel pressure from other boys and girls?” “Do you feel abandoned because of poverty?” “Do you have all the information you need regarding your health and HIV? If not, ask me, ask your partners, ask! Okay!”

The 40 boys and girls nod and shrug. They have come for a workshop run by the Association Espoir pour Demain (AED) in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, which aims to create a space for young people to learn about sexual health and to train some to become peer educators.

“After having seen a number of young students come to us pregnant, we felt a need to start these workshops,” Ms Kafando, the founder of AED, said.

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“I am lucky,” Charles Somé said. The hyperactive human rights advocacy worker from Burkina Faso recalls going to a training event and chiding some of the men there about their sexual orientation. “I had pre-conceived ideas and asked them “Don’t you want to get married?”, “Don’t you want to have kids?”” he said. One young man opened up to him and, after days of honest conversations, Mr Somé had a sea change in his views.

“It dawned on me that if I am not judged, why should I judge others,” Mr Somé said. From then on, when lobbying on behalf of gay men and other men who have sex with men, he has used the word “we”.

“I defend them and respect them,” Mr Somé, who works for the REVS PLUS/Coalition PLUS nongovernmental organization, said.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Burkina Faso, but stigma and discrimination remains high. Many men marry and hide their double life. Support groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have popped up, but discretion is key.

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