|Research uptake: Can Africa get it right?|
|Tuesday, 27 March 2012 16:04|
More than 70% of the world's HIV-positive population live in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the end of 2010, the number stood at 22.9 million. That's the grim and sobering reality and the African AIDS community has every reason to view the situation with great pessimism. But the news isn't always bad.
In certain pockets of the continent great strides have been made in reducing infection rates and improving and prolonging lives as a result of solid science having found its way into policy.
A good example of effective research uptake is the mother-to-child-transmission study carried out at the Africa Centre in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province some six years ago. Research seldom finds its way into policy quickly and this study was no different. The study took place between 1999 and 2006 and the findings were adopted into government policy in 2010. They have also been adopted as policy by the World Health Organization.
A team from the University of KZN carried out this highly regarded Mamanengane (meaning “mother and child” in Zulu) research project.
The study found that exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of six months (as opposed to adding other fluids and solids) significantly reduced the transmission of HIV from HIV+ mothers to their infants. This resulted in the issuing of new breastfeeding advice guidelines, which had previously advised bottle feeding for HIV+ mothers.
Linda Cilliers is the Online Media Specialist at DRUSSA.