The research trial found that in-home testing, combined with referring people living with HIV to clinics, could substantially reduce new infections. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency
Cape Town - Researchers from Stellenbosch University have given feedback to communities after a landmark study throughout South Africa and Zambia, which found ways to significantly reduce new HIV infections.

Over a period of four years, Community HIV Care Providers (CHiPS) went door to door, in 21 communities in South Africa and Zambia, offering a package of HIV prevention services.

The research trial found that in-home testing, combined with referring people living with HIV to care and treatment at clinics, could substantially reduce new HIV infections.

Researchers provided HIV testing and counselling, condoms, and screening and education on sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis, and were able to link HIV positive clients to care and Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) at clinics.

Community members, leaders, fieldworkers and clinic staff from nine communities in and around Cape Town and the Winelands district have welcomed the results.

Dr Peter Bock, research clinician at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) at Stellenbosch University and HPTN 071 (PopART) co-principal investigator for South Africa, said they would not have been able to undertake the pivotal HIV prevention trial without the support of people in the communities in which they worked.

Drakenstein Municipality speaker Aidan Stowman said whatever could be done to prevent illness would not only save many lives, but would also be cost-effective in the long run.

Nomtha Mandla, Population Cohort project manager for HPTN 071 (PopART) in South Africa, said it was important to tell people in communities about the results of the study.

Representatives from the US Embassy in South Africa, the City of Cape Town Health Department, the Western Cape Department of Health, NGO implementing partners - Kheth’Impilo and Anova - and Stellenbosch University leadership attended the meeting.

Professor Nulda Beyers, principal investigator of the HPTN 071 (PopART) study in South Africa, said partnerships were at the heart of the HPTN 071 (PopART) study.

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Cape Argus