A new study by Halperin, et al in PLoS Medicine aims to explain why the HIV prevalence rate among adults in Zimbabwe declined from 29% in 1997 to 16% in 2007.
The authors reviewed and modeled a variety of data sources, data from including antenatal clinic, DHS and other longitudinal surveys and focus groups with 200 adults.
The authors concluded:
"The behavioral changes associated with HIV reduction—mainly reductions in extramarital, commercial, and casual sexual relations, and associated reductions in partner concurrency—appear to have been stimulated primarily by increased awareness of AIDS deaths and secondarily by the country's economic deterioration. These changes were probably aided by prevention programs utilizing both mass media and church-based, workplace-based, and other inter-personal communication activities.
Focusing on partner reduction, in addition to promoting condom use for casual sex and other evidence-based approaches, is crucial for developing more effective prevention programs, especially in regions with generalized HIV epidemics."
Against the context of severe social, political, and economic disruption, what do you think are the implications of these findings on HIV prevention policy in southern Africa?
Here is a link to the PLOS Article: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000414
Also, here is short article from NY Times describing the study http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/health/15global.html?_r=1&ref=health