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Community-based HIV-prevention efforts can boost testing, help reduce new infections
Date:3/5/2013

In Africa and Thailand, communities that worked together on HIV-prevention efforts saw not only a rise in HIV screening but a drop in new infections, according to a new study presented this week at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health's Project Accept a trial conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network to test a combination of social, behavioral and structural HIV-prevention interventions demonstrated that a series of community efforts was able to boost the number of people tested for HIV and resulted in a 14 percent reduction in new HIV infections, compared with control communities.

"These study results clearly demonstrate that high rates of testing can be achieved by going into communities and that this strategy can result in increased HIV detection, which makes referral to care possible," said Project Accept's overall principal investigator, Thomas J. Coates, who directs UCLA's Center for World Health and is an associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute. "This has major public health benefit implications by not only linking infected individuals to care but also by encouraging testing in entire communities and therefore also reducing further HIV transmission."

The trial was conducted in 34 communities in South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe and in 14 communities in Thailand. It consisted of mobile HIV testing, post-test support services and real-time feedback.

The aim of the intervention was four-fold: (1) to increase access to voluntary counseling and testing, as well as post-test services; (2) to change community attitudes about HIV awareness and particularly about the benefit of knowing one's HIV status; (3) to remove barriers to knowing one's HIV status; and (4) to increase the safety of testing and minimize the potential negative consequences of testing by providing various forms of support.

Communities were match
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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