UCLA Study Questions the Strategy of Public Health Officials in Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, questions the strategy developed by the World Health Organization and the United Nations for fighting HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Public health officials are employing a strategy to identify and treat those with HIV so that they will not transmit the virus to other. The goal is to diagnose 90 percent of the HIV cases and to treat 90 percent of those diagnosed by the year 2020.

The UCLA study praises the goals of the campaign but finds that implementing the plan will be problematic. They note that in Lesotho, where an estimated 25 percent of the adult population is infected with HIV, the highest rate of infections is in remote rural areas outside major population centers.

Justin Okano, a statistician in the Center for Biomedical Modeling at UCLA, says that “the HIV epidemic in Lesotho is hidden. Nobody knows where the vast majority of HIV-infected people live. To find them, it would be necessary to test everyone in the country, which would be extremely expensive and very difficult.”

Sally Blower, director of the Center for Biomedical Modeling, added that “to develop effective strategies, we need to figure out — throughout entire countries — where HIV-infected individuals live and which communities are connected to each other.”

The study “Using Geospatial Mapping to Design HIV Elimination Strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa,” was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It may be accessed here.

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