Selecting HIV infection prevention interventions in the mature HIV epidemic in Malawi using the mode of transmission model
Department of Public Health, Division of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:243 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-243Published: 19 August 2010
Malawi is reassessing its HIV prevention strategy in the light of a limited reduction in the epidemic. No community based incidence studies have been carried out in Malawi, so estimates of where new infections are occurring require the use of mathematical models and knowledge of the size and sexual behaviour of different groups. The results can help to choose where HIV prevention interventions are most needed.
The UNAIDS Mode of Transmission model was populated with Malawi data and estimates of incident cases calculated for each exposure group. Scenarios of single and multiple interventions of varying success were used to identify those interventions most likely to reduce incident cases.
The groups accounting for most new infections were the low-risk heterosexual group - the discordant couples (37%) and those who had casual sex and their partners (a further 16% and 27% respectively) of new cases.
Circumcision, condoms with casual sex and bar girls and improved STI treatment had limited effect in reducing incident cases, while condom use with discordant couples, abstinence and a zero-grazing campaign had major effects. The combination of a successful strategy to eliminate multiple concurrent partners and a successful strategy to eliminate all infections between discordant couples would reduce incident cases by 99%.
A revitalised HIV prevention strategy will need to include interventions which tackle the two modes of transmission now found to be so important in Malawi - concurrency and discordancy.