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Community-based HIV prevention strategy can reduce new infections - study

The United Nations programme on HIV and Aids says 7.2 million South Africans were living with the disease in 2017.

FILE: Picture: @HIVptn/Facebook.com

CAPE TOWN - A study shows expanding community-based health services can drastically reduce new HIV infections.

HIV Prevention Trial Network (HPTN 071) Population Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy to Reduce HIV Transmission (PopART), a trial started in January 2014, emphasises the importance of early detection and treatment.

The study involved one million people from 21 communities in South Africa and Zambia.

The research was recently presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in the US city of Seattle.

In South Africa, six communities in the Cape Town metro and three in the Cape Winelands District were screened.

Community health workers went door-to-door providing screening for HIV and tuberculosis (TB) and ensuring affected individuals received treatment.

Peter Bock‚ a research clinician at Desmond Tutu TB Centre in the department of paediatrics and child health at Stellenbosch University, says the study was completed in June 2018.

“In the middle arm or arm B where we had community workers going door-to-door and standard of care services at the health clinic we achieved a 30% reduction in new HIV infections.”

The United Nations programme on HIV and Aids says 7.2 million South Africans were living with the disease in 2017.

Some 270,000 new HIV infections were recorded in the same year.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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