A study by The Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Population Health and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health shows that the ARV roll-out has increased the life expectancy of women by 13,2 years, while it raised male life expectancy by nine years.
The Wellcome Trust Africa Centre has been tracking about 10 000 people diagnosed with HIV/Aids in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) from 2001-2011 and they have since been able to register the number of people who have died as a result of the disease. The centre also conducted interviews with the individuals about three times a year and more extensive ones with the families of those who had passed away.
Speaking to Times Live, Deenan Pillay, the Director of the centre, said that the study showed that men were also less likely to access HIV/Aids treatment.
“There is a huge benefit in the roll-out of ARVs in life expectancy in SA, but women are benefiting more,” he said. “The data suggests that the health department needs to look at ways of reaching more men for HIV/Aids testing.”
The study found that many men were unaware of their status and thus not getting the treatment they needed.
Another study published earlier this year found that more than half the pregnant women in KZN would be HIV-positive by the time they turned 25 and older. The study urged readers to look beyond the sexual behaviour of the women and acknowledge the biological aspects as well.
“This research provides evidence that the high HIV risk in women is not simply because of behaviour, but has a biological basis. In trying to reduce HIV in young women, we might have been barking up the wrong tree by focusing only on trying to change their behaviour,” said Salim Abdool Karim, Director at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA.
Karim went on to say that researchers found that inflammation of the vagina increased the risk of contracting HIV.
There are currently follow-up studies investigating whether hormone changes, hygiene and/or changes in the bacteria populating the vagina could be causing the inflammation.