New tool in fight against HIV

//New tool in fight against HIV

New tool in fight against HIV


PROGRESS: New research methods will allow scientists far greater success in HIV treatment interventions.Picture: Reuters
Cape Town – In order to reverse the HIV epidemic more men need to be put on treatment, and new research aims to achieve that.Using cutting-edge data analytical methods, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) scientists have developed an improved method to accurately predict where the highest rate of new HIV infections (HIV incidence) is likely to occur in a community.

This innovative set of measurements will help to target treatment and prevention resources and interventions where they are most needed.

As part of the study, AHRI faculty scientist Professor Frank Tanser said their research showed that men were benefiting less from antiretroviral roll-outs than women.

“It’s also critical that we find better ways of getting men on to treatment in order to reverse the HIV epidemic.

“One of the reasons that the rate of new infections is so high among women is because their male partners have high viral loads as a consequence of them not accessing HIV care and treatment.

“At AHRI we are looking at innovative solutions, including financial incentives, for men to test and treat, as well as gender-sensitive mobile and technology options.”

He said HIV-related mortality remained unacceptably high in men, despite a spectacular increase in life expectancy as a result of treatment roll-outs.

“The gap between female and male adult life expectancy has doubled in recent years.

Tanser said it was critical to measure the resultant impact of moving towards the UNAids 90-90-90 targets on both life expectancy as well as the rate of new HIV infections in a real world sub-Saharan African setting.

“This is a real strength of the AHRI population-based cohort, which is one of the largest in the world. We are well set up to be able to accurately measure these impacts.

The latest UNAIDS figures put South Africa at around 45% of all HIV positives virally suppressed, still well short of the 73% UNAIDS 90-90-90 target.

Author: Yolisa Tswanya