Geneva, Switzerland -- HIV counseling and testing programs are very effective and relatively inexpensive ways for developing countries to curb sexual risk behaviors that can lead to HIV infection, according to new research findings. "We designed a study to definitively answer whether it is cost effective to invest in these services in the developing world, and the simple answer is 'yes' ", said Thomas J. Coates, PhD, director of the University of California San Francisco AIDS Research Institute (UCSF ARI).
He added, however, that most individuals in developing nations do not have access to counseling and testing programs because limited funds cannot support them. "But this study shows that such services should be routine and available everywhere," he said.
Coates was a principal investigator on "The Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing Efficacy Study," the basis of several presentations here at the 12th World AIDS Conference.
The largest study of its kind, the research is a collaborative project of the UCSF ARI and several international organizations. Researchers looked at how providing free HIV counseling and testing services in three developing countries could influence the practice of unprotected sex by individuals and couples. Gloria Sangiwa of the University of Dar Es Salaam presented study results today (June 29) focused on individuals who had completed six months of personal counseling about high-risk sexual behavior for exposure to HIV. Coates will present additional data from the study on July 1 that focuses on couples who had completed six months of counseling.
The project is the first randomized study to look at the developing world, encompassing three countries in Africa and the Caribbean, and more than 5000 participants.
The team set up free counseling centers easily accessible to local residents of
Nairobi, Kenya; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The researchers selected 3120 individuals and 586 coup
Contact: Mitzi Baker
University of California - San Francisco