AIDS Prevention: Does It Work? Paper Suggests New Way To Assess Prevention,,Programs

LINTHICUM, MD, October 20 - A new simulation model that gauges the potential success of HIV prevention programs will be presented by a team of Canadian researchers at the national convention of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in Seattle. The convention is taking place at Washington State Convention & Trade Center and The Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers from Sunday, October 25 to Wednesday, October 28. The researchers present their findings on Sunday, October 28 from 4:30 - 6 PM.

Linking Prevention and the Epidemic

Given the complexity of HIV, the UBC simulation model hypothetically recreates the epidemic and, more significantly, possible interventions, including how each would impact the course of the infection. Among the prevention techniques evaluated are media campaigns, group counseling, condom distribution, and needle exchange programs.

In a departure, the model measures not only a program's success at educating those at risk but also actual changes in behavior - a more direct indicator of likeliness to contract or avoid contracting HIV. The researchers argue that measuring the number of people who have developed HIV, and not just the number of people reached through prevention programs, is a marked improvement in determining a program's potential success.

The model helps determine the expected cost and benefit of different types of intervention. This economic information is vital to policymakers who must make tactical choices and plan budgets to slow the spread of the AIDS virus.

The Challenge

The study addresses a conundrum facing researchers: Since it is impossible to know how many cases of HIV would have occurred in the absence of concerted prevention efforts, how does one count what doesn't happen? In proposing their model, the researchers observe that there have been few large scale efforts at evaluating prevention programs. Previous research has often considered specific p

Contact: Barry List
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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