Researchers deploy large-scale HIV intervention project in South Africa

January 17, 2014 by Joseph J. Diorio

A large-scale human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) intervention/education effort aimed at helping South African men take a proactive role in the prevention of that disease has proven successful, an important development considering that country has the largest number of HIV infections in the world.

Researchers, led by Prof. John B. Jemmott, III, Annenberg School for Communication and the Perelman School of Medicine; and Loretta Sweet Jemmott from Penn Nursing Science developed an invention involving nearly 1,200 individuals, who participated in customized and proactive education programs on condom usage and the importance of discussing safe sex in their relationships. The results of their study are being reported this week in the American Journal of Public Health (Volume 104, Issue 2).

Nearly 1,200 individuals in 44 neighborhoods near East London in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa participated in the program and follow-up surveys conducted over a 12-month period. Approximately half participated in an HIV/STI (sexually transmitted infection) risk reduction invention, and half in a general health information (control) intervention.

Participants were recruited via community meetings and public gathering places such as marketplaces, taxi stands, and shebeens (after-hours drinking clubs). The intervention programs, called "Men, Together Making a Difference," were conducted in native isiXhosa tongue (language using intermittent clicking sounds as part of its lexicon). The intervention sessions involved rituals such as beginning with a "Circle of Men," which enabled all participants, regardless of age or economic status, to develop stronger bonds. Additional components of the HIV/STI prevention included a video magazine, "The Subject Is: HIV," addressing the impact of the disease in South Africa; a video drama "Eiyish!," addressing dangers of multiple partners and the failure to use condoms; take-home assignments; and in-class role-playing to increase the discussion and ultimately the use of condoms.

Follow-up surveys after one year showed an increase in condom use by participants, regardless of whether they were involved with steady or casual partners for intercourse. (From 54% to 63% for men involved with steady partners and from 77% to 79% for men involved with casual partners.) Also, follow-up surveys showed slight decreases in the occurrences of unprotected sex. Participants also reported a four- to five-percent increase in the number of times men talked to their partners about condom use prior to sex.

"The fact that HIV affects women most severely in regions such as the sub-Saharan Africa where heterosexual exposure is a dominant mode of HIV transmission is well established," the authors write in the article. "Yet few interventions to change the heterosexual behavior of men have been developed and rigorously evaluated." They note that not only was this the first large-scale study of its kind, but that South African demonstrated a willingness to attend multiple intervention sessions, participate in role-play condom use scenarios, and return for repeated efficacy assessments. They stressed the need for additional research to strengthen the impact of intervention programs.

Explore further: New intervention reduces risky sex among bisexual African-American men

Related Stories

New intervention reduces risky sex among bisexual African-American men

August 21, 2013
A culturally tailored HIV prevention program developed and tested by investigators at UCLA and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science has been shown to significantly reduce unprotected sex among bisexual black ...

Unprotected sex among young gay men on the rise

October 21, 2013
Unprotected sex with casual partners - one of the key drivers of HIV transmission among gay men - has risen significantly for those aged under 25.

Ditty bag of condoms, home-use instructions lead to improved comfort and consistency with condom use

November 6, 2013
A new and successful strategy for combating the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV draws from an old idea: Practice is fundamental to learning, even when it involves using condoms correctly.

New analysis challenges assumptions about bisexual men and HIV transmission

November 6, 2013
The number of HIV positive men who have sex with both men and women is likely no higher than the number of HIV positive heterosexual men, according to a U.S.-based analysis by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public ...

Increased anal cancer risk from HIV plus HPV dual infection

December 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer in women, is also known to cause anal cancer in both women and men. Now, a study led by researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing has found ...

Recommended for you

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

Paris spotlight on latest in AIDS science

July 21, 2017
Some 6,000 HIV experts gather in Paris from Sunday to report advances in AIDS science as fading hopes of finding a cure push research into new fields.

Scientists elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV in calves

July 20, 2017
Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have achieved a significant step forward, eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) to HIV by immunizing calves. The findings offer insights for HIV vaccine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.