Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tshedimoso Update (Jan 25, 2006)

"Tshedimoso" means "knew knowledge" in Setswana, the local language. Since I haven't had much time to post anything new on my blog, I'm instead posting a newspaper article that I've submitted to the Gazette, a local newspaper, for patient recruitment and education. It may be interesting to get an idea of what our study is working on:

The “Tshedimoso” Study: What You Should Know About Early HIV Infection

Where does the HIV epidemic come from? Botswana has the second highest HIV prevalence in the world, and almost 1 in 3 adults (19-45 years of age) are HIV positive. So how is HIV being transmitted so quickly? Research shows that the vast majority of HIV transmissions propelling the epidemic occur in the early stages of HIV infection.

If someone was infected with HIV just last month, the chance of them transmitting HIV to their partners is extremely high- possibly 20 times higher than normal. Early HIV infection is a very dangerous time for spreading the disease but very few people are aware of their HIV status during that time. If you have been recently exposed, it can be frightening to test for HIV. However, knowing your HIV status early is crucial to your health and the health of others.

If you have had a recent accident/unprotected sex, it is critical to know your HIV status as soon as possible, because during early HIV infection it is very easy for you to pass on HIV. Once you know your status, you are empowered to control your actions and to protect your loved ones from getting infected.

The “Tshedimoso” study (Botswana-Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative Partnership) is trying to understand what goes on in the body during early HIV infection. The “Tshedimoso” study offers an HIV test for early HIV infection that lets you know your status sooner than with a regular test for HIV antibodies (the rapid ELISA): No more HIV “window period”.

As part of the HIV testing that “Tshedimoso” provides, the study offers early HIV education, supportive counseling, and empowerment for behavioral changes. This could help to stop the spread of HIV during this critical phase. The knowledge gained from the “Tshedimoso” study will help to design future HIV interventions, such as vaccines and treatments.

People who are newly infected with HIV sometimes experience “flu-like” symptoms such as headaches, body aches, fevers, or fatigue. Not everyone with these symptoms has HIV.

Are you worried about an early HIV infection? You can call or visit the “Tshedimoso” study clinic at 3930036/3931146/72747293 or visit the study clinic in the caravans at the Princess Marina Hospital behind the Old Dental clinic. The “Tshedimoso” study is also testing at the Old Naledi Clinic, Block 9, and the Gaborone Tebelopele. The “Tshedimoso” study clinic can help you know your status early and counsel you about what you can do to protect yourself and those around you.


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