More time in school brakes the spread of HIV in­fec­tion: study

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Longer school­ing seems to be an ef­fec­tive and af­ford­able way to cut the risk of HIV in­fec­tion in AIDSen­demic coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of a study in Botswana pub­lished Mon­day.

Data col­lected among 7,018 peo­ple in Botswana found that an ex­tra year of sec­ondary school­ing low­ered the risk of HIV in­fec­tion over the fol­low­ing decade by eight per­cent­age points — from about 25 to 17 per­cent.

The south­ern African coun­try with one of the world’s high­est HIV rates was an ideal set­ting for the study as a change in its ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in 1996 led to an av­er­age in­crease of about 10 months in school­ing.

This al­lowed a di­rect com­pari- son of rates of in­fec­tion be­tween young adults schooled be­fore and af­ter the change.

“We show ... that sec­ondary school­ing has a large pro­tec­tive ef­fect against risk of HIV in­fec­tion in Botswana,” said the study pub­lished in The Lancet Global Health.

The ef­fects were “par­tic­u­larly large among women,” for whom the risk was 12 per­cent­age points lower for ev­ery ad­di­tional year of ed­u­ca­tion.

So­cio- eco­nomic sta­tus is a known fac­tor in HIV risk, but whether or not for­mal ed­u­ca­tion on its own is pro­tec­tive has been hotly de­bated by re­searchers. Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have yielded con­flict­ing an­swers.

In Botswana, about 22 per­cent of peo­ple aged 15-49 were HIV- pos­i­tive in 2013, ac­cord­ing to the pa­per.

Study co- au­thor Jan- Wal­ter de Neve of the Har­vard TH Chan School of Public Health in Bos­ton, hy­poth­e­sized that bet­ter knowl­edge about pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion may be one ef­fect of longer school­ing.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, ed­u­ca­tion may ex­pand eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties and re­duce women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in higher-risk trans­ac­tional sex­ual re­la­tion­ships,” he said in a state­ment.

The au­thors said sec­ondary school­ing ap­peared to be a cost­ef­fec­tive in­ter­ven­tion for HIVen­demic coun­tries — with a high re­turn on in­vest­ment in the form of health­ier and longer-liv­ing, eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive adults.

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