The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) plans to visit 60,000 South Africans to request their participation in the country’s fifth HIV and health study.
Professor Leickness Simbayi explained that the aim of the survey aims to determine the HIV status of participants, estimate the number of individuals who were recently affected (if applicable), determine if the participant is taking antiretroviral medicine (ARVs) and assessing the levels of resistance to ARVs by those already on the treatment programme.
The study will also identify the prevalence of behavioural and social factors that put South Africans at risk of contracting the virus. These include alcohol and substance abuse, circumcision status and high risk sexual behaviour.
“The HSRC has put together 72 teams of trained field workers, dressed in HSRC bibs and carrying HSRC – ISSUES identification cards, who will be interviewing a total of 60,000 individuals of all ages from randomly pre-selected household towns, cities, and villages access the entire country,” he said.
Simbayi said participation in the survey is voluntary and it is important for as many people who are approached to take part in order for the results to be representative of the whole country.
He said early assessments indicate that the survey which commenced in two provinces in December 2016 and January is going well and support from the public is gaining momentum.
” A month into the study, more than 1,000 households have agreed to participate, which is very encouraging.”
The professor explained that field workers have noted challenges on gaining access to some households in certain neighbourhoods partially the suburban areas.
“To truly inform our health policies and make decisions that will benefit our entire country, the survey must include a scienfically selected sample that is representative of the whole country, rich or poor and of all education levels.”
As opposed to other years, this year, field workers are using electronic data collection devices to enable more efficient collection.
“With another seven months to go in the study, I would like to appeal to all pre-selected households to offer their full co-operation to our field workers, ensuring that they respond honestly on their health behaviours to inform the study findings. The results will have significant implications for the country’s future healthy policy and in determining the appropriate response mechanism to address current health challenges.”
Respondents are asked to answer a questionnaire and provide a small blood sample through finger prick and heel prick for infants. All information and results are kept confidential.
– African News Agency