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HIV heterogeneity and proximity of homestead to roads in rural South Africa: an exploration using a geographical information system

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Abstract:

Summary

objective  To describe heterogeneity of HIV prevalence among pregnant women in Hlabisa health district, South Africa and to correlate this with proximity of homestead to roads.

methods  HIV prevalence measured through anonymous surveillance among pregnant women and stratified by local village clinic. Polygons were created around each clinic, assuming women attend the clinic nearest their home. A geographical information system (GIS) calculated the mean distance from homesteads in each clinic catchment to nearest primary (1°) and to nearest primary or secondary (2°) road.

results  We found marked HIV heterogeneity by clinic catchment (range 19–31% (< 0.001). A polygon plot demonstrated lower HIV prevalence in catchments remote from 1° roads. Mean distance from homesteads to nearest 1° or 2° road varied by clinic catchment from 1623 to 7569 m. The mean distance from homesteads to a 1° or 2° road for each clinic catchment was strongly correlated with HIV prevalence (= 0.66; = 0.002).

conclusions  The substantial HIV heterogeneity in this district is closely correlated with proximity to a 1° or 2° road. GIS is a powerful tool to demonstrate and to start to analyse this observation. Further research is needed to better understand this relationship both at ecological and individual levels, and to develop interventions to reduce the spread of HIV infection.

Keywords: GIS; HIV infection; South Africa; clinic catchment

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-3156.2000.00513.x

Affiliations: 1: Africa Centre for Population Studies and Reproductive Health, South Africa 2: National Malaria Research Programme, Medical Research Council, South Africa 3: South Australian Centre for Rural and Remote Health, University of Adelaide and University of South Australia, Australia

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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