60-Second Science

Home Visits Improve AIDS Outcomes

In rural areas of developing countries, home visits can vastly lower AIDS and all-cause mortality rates. Cynthia Graber reports.

Podcast Transcript: When it comes to saving lives, a personal touch can sometimes work better than drugs alone. That’s what researchers in Uganda found, in a study published in the journal the Lancet. Scientists studied the efficacy of home visits to AIDS patients in rural areas that aren’t served by clinics. Lay workers with no clinical training visited patients weekly to provide potent anti-AIDS drugs.

The thousand study participants also received supporting interventions including insecticide-treated bed nets to avoid malaria infection and a safe water system. After two years, researchers compared the results of the rural home visits to urban clinics that only administer drugs. In the rural homes, AIDS-related mortality was reduced by more than ninety percent. There was also a sharp decline in child mortality from all causes.  Additional cost for these results—25 cents per patient per day.

Researchers caution that the dramatic benefits can’t be attributed to home visits alone and may have been aided by the additional measures, for example, bed nets.  But the results are in line with similar conducted in other countries, such as Haiti.

—Cynthia Graber

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