Durban, South Africa (June 11, 2019) Discovering the relationship between HIV risk perception and rapid anti-retroviral therapy (ART) initiation among people living in Umlazi is the focus of the latest research collaboration between the AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION (AHF), Harvard University, University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Washington.
The research will be presented at the 9th SA AIDS Conference in Durban, from 11–14 June.
AHF is the largest non-profit HIV and Aids healthcare provider globally, committed to "cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability to pay" and its Ithembalabantu Clinic in Umlazi was one of the firsts to distribute free antiretroviral medication to the public. This makes the Umlazi community the perfect place to explore why new HIV infections continue despite access to information and medication.
“The study clearly showed that those individuals with a high HIV risk perception took longer to initiate ART compared to those with low HIV risk perception. This marks the importance for us as a country to devise interventions encouraging rapid ART uptake to ensure the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Universal Test and Treat (UTT) policy is effectively implemented.” says Sabina Govere, AHF South Africa, Research Manager.
AHF strives to understand HIV transmission and treatment in a multidimensional manner. This study deepens our understanding of why people delay treatment after testing HIV positive despite improved access to treatment and medication which is easier to take. The study of 944 voluntary participants, all over the age of 18 years, aimed to determine the factors associated with perceived risk of HIV infection, to compare HIV perceived risk and results of the rapid HIV test and to determine the association between reported HIV perceived risk and rapid initiation and uptake of ART.
“We are well aware of the link between a perceived high risk of acquiring HIV and frequent HIV testing,” explains Hilary Thulare, Country Programme Durector, AHF South Africa, “but there was a grey area surrounding the perceived risk of HIV infection and rapid commencement of ART. We look forward to sharing our findings at SA AIDS Conference and to collaborating with various stakeholders on new ideas to meet the UTT policy.”
About the aids healthcare foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global Aids organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.1 million clients in 43 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe/Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare