To address the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions of the world, research is necessary. Such investigations have already taken place and appear in the scientific literature; however, further study will have to take place until the health disparities better resolve.
Interventions for HIV in Developing Countries
Interventions to address human immunodeficiency virus infection in developing countries require adequate needs assessment beforehand.
Health Behavior Issues
Poverty, sociocultural factors, and gender inequality contribute to the HIV pandemic, and health behavior is important. Barrier methods of protection will reduce transmission of disease, and their usage is a form of health behavior change. Nevertheless, condoms are not available everywhere, and behavior change with or without the use of condoms is essential .
Women who are in abusive relationships may not be able to negotiate with their sexual partners over the need to always use condoms.
In order to conduct a needs assessment for the community, survey research is a good approach. Specifically, the questionnaire may contain items that will explore the presence of abusive relationships, commercial sex work, use or availability of condoms, knowledge about HIV testing, and sexual behaviors. These sexual patterns of behavior include abstinence or the presence of multiple sexual partners whether serial monogamous or concurrent .
The questionnaire can address injection drug use of the respondents and their sexual partners. It is possible to design surveys which address these sensitive issues, and confidentiality is important. Moreover, the administration of the survey must also protect the woman from retaliation. In other words, she must have a comfortable and safe environment to take the survey and assurance that the sexual partner will not discover her responses.
The questionnaire should also address occurrences of teenage pregnancy and sexual activity during adolescence .
It must also inquire about the availability and nature of school health education in the community as this will indicate to the researcher what steps are necessary for those programs in the public schools and universities. There should, additionally, be questions on the availability of health screening for sexually transmitted diseases in that geographic region .
Finally, the survey should inquire about the usual demographic variables such as age, gender, race, marital status, education, and income .
The conclusions from the investigation will indicate which approaches are most effective for the population, and these will naturally vary with the community. Media campaigns may be beneficial to raise awareness about the situation and how individuals can effect change. Classes can also serve to dispel of myths about sexuality.
1. Michielsen, K., Chersich, M., Luchters, S., et al. (2010). Effectiveness of HIV prevention for youth in sub-Saharan Africa: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and nonrandomized trials. AIDS, 24, 1193-1202.
2. World Health Organization. (2010). Towards universal access: Scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health sector. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
3. The photograph is a thin-section transmission electron micrograph of several human immunodeficiency virus particles. Reprinted with permission from Centers for Disease Control/Dr. A. Harrison/Dr. P. Feorino.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.