TNA & Sowetan report on nuances in HIV prevention

  • Kim Johnson - 19 October 2012

Highlighting HIV prevention drives aimed at certain groups communicates how far South Africa has come in addressing the HIV epidemic but also indicates that HIV prevention is not one size fits all.

This week the Sowetan and The New Age (TNA) featured articles on how HIV prevention is being taken to the nation’s taxi drivers.

While South Africa has blanket policies and guidelines to address HIV among the general public, these articles show that addressing the epidemic as applies to specific groups is also crucial.

This is because different groups have different risk profiles when it comes to HIV.

Some groups may engage in behaviours or be affected by factors beyond their control that contribute to them having a very high risk of HIV.

For taxi drivers and truck drivers the nature of their work, which may involve staying away from home for extended periods, has been associated with multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP), one of the key drivers of SA’s HIV epidemic.

Men who have sex with men (MSM), whose HIV risk profile is influenced by both biological and social factors, are also a case in point.

Previously unrecognised by Government, the latest National Strategic Plan now makes provision for this group’s complex and unique case.

The fact that the papers chose to spotlight one of these specially tailored campaigns communicates a message to the public, which says that HIV prevention and treatment is becoming more advanced and more nuanced in response to a highly complex epidemic.

Having said that it also illustrates the need for interventions tailored to specific groups.

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“different groups have different risk profiles when it comes to HIV”