Cape Argus

Landmark study on HIV prevention in SA and Zambia


RESEARCHER­S from Stellenbos­ch University have given feedback to communitie­s after a landmark study throughout South Africa and Zambia, which found ways to significan­tly reduce new HIV infections.

Over a period of four years, Community HIV Care Providers (CHiPS) went door to door, in 21 communitie­s in South Africa and Zambia, offering a package of HIV prevention services.

The research trial found that in-home testing, combined with referring people living with HIV to care and treatment at clinics, could substantia­lly reduce new HIV infections.

Researcher­s provided HIV testing and counsellin­g, condoms, and screening and education on sexually transmitte­d infections and tuberculos­is, and were able to link HIV positive clients to care and Antiretrov­iral Treatment (ART) at clinics.

Community members, leaders, fieldworke­rs and clinic staff from nine communitie­s in and around Cape Town and the Winelands district have welcomed the results.

Dr Peter Bock, research clinician at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) at Stellenbos­ch University and HPTN 071 (PopART) co-principal investigat­or for South Africa, said they would not have been able to undertake the pivotal HIV prevention trial without the support of people in the communitie­s in which they worked.

Drakenstei­n Municipali­ty speaker Aidan Stowman said whatever could be done to prevent illness would not only save many lives, but would also be cost-effective in the long run.

Nomtha Mandla, Population Cohort project manager for HPTN 071 (PopART) in South Africa, said it was important to tell people in communitie­s about the results of the study.

Representa­tives from the US Embassy in South Africa, the City of Cape Town Health Department, the Western Cape Department of Health, NGO implementi­ng partners – Kheth’Impilo and Anova – and Stellenbos­ch University leadership attended the meeting.

Professor Nulda Beyers, principal investigat­or of the HPTN 071 (PopART) study in South Africa, said partnershi­ps were at the heart of the HPTN 071 (PopART) study.

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