Geoadditive Models to Assess Spatial Variation of HIV Infections among Women in Local Communities of Durban, South Africa

International Journal of Health Geographics, 2011, 10:28

Wand H, Whitaker C, and Ramjee G

“Background: The severity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa varies between and within provinces, with differences noted even at the suburban scale. We investigated the geographical variability of HIV infection in rural areas of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa.

“Method: We used geoadditive models to assess nonlinear geographical variation in HIV prevalence while simultaneously controlling for important demographic and sexual risk factors. A total of ~3,500 women who were screened for a Phase-III randomized trial were included in the current analysis.

“Results: We found significant spatial patterns that could not be explained by demographic and sexual risk behaviors. In particular, the epidemic was determined to be much worse 44 km south of Durban after controlling for all demographic and sexual risk behaviors.

“Conclusion: The study revealed significant geographic variability in HIV infection in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.”