UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health researchers have completed two HIV-prevention studies based in Kenya. The studies were co-authored by Dr. Harsha Thirumurthy, associate professor of health policy and management at the Gillings School.
[Photo: A high proportion of women participating in a UNC study in Kenya reported giving self-tests to their sexual partners and others in their social networks, a strategy that also led to the identification of a significant number of HIV-infected adults. Photo courtesy of Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security]
One, “Acceptability and feasibility of a novel approach to promote HIV testing in sexual and social networks using HIV self-tests,” found that providing multiple HIV self-tests to women in populations with high HIV incidence is a successful way to promote HIV testing among the women’s partners. In Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries, men have a particularly low utilization of HIV testing. A high proportion of women participating in the study reported giving self-tests to their sexual partners and others in their social networks, a strategy that also led to the identification of a significant number of HIV-infected adults.
The second study, “The effect of conditional economic compensation and lottery-based rewards on uptake of medical male circumcision in Kenya: a randomized trial,” concluded that providing compensation in the form of food vouchers to those seeking circumcision services was effective in increasing circumcision uptake among men over a short time period. According to the World Health Organization and others, “there is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent.”
Small economic incentives ($12.50 USD) successfully addressed barriers such as time and transportation costs, especially among men who already were contemplating circumcision. Lottery-based rewards with high-value prizes, however, did not increase circumcision uptake significantly.
Dr. Thirumurthy presented his research at the Eighth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver, Canada, on July 20 and 21.