UC BERKELEY AUTHOR: Jennifer Ahern
DATE OF PUBLICATION: October 2018
REFERENCE: Lippman SA, Leddy AM, Neilands TB, Ahern J, MacPhail C, Wagner RG, Peacock D, Twine R, Goin DE, Gómez-Olivé FX, Selin A, Tollman SM, Kahn K, Pettifor A. 2018. doi: 10.1002/jia2.25182.
SUMMARY/ABSTRACT: Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in South Africa bear a disproportionate burden of HIV. Community mobilization (CM), defined as community members taking collective action to achieve a common goal related to health, equity and rights, has been associated with increased HIV testing and condom use and has been called a ‘critical enabler’ for addressing the HIV epidemic. However, limited research has examined whether CM is associated with HIV incidence among AGYW. METHODS: We examine the association of CM with incident HIV among AGYW (ages 13 to 21) enrolled in the HPTN 068 cohort in the Agincourt Health and socio-Demographic Surveillance System, South Africa. This analysis includes 2292 participants residing in 26 villages where cross-sectional, population-based surveys were conducted to measure CM among 18- to 35-year-old residents in 2012 and 2014. HPTN 068 participants completed up to five annual visits that included an HIV test (2011 to 2016). Household-level data were collected from AGYW parents/guardians and census data is updated annually. Mean village-level CM scores were created using a validated community mobilization measure with seven components (social cohesion, social control, critical consciousness, shared concerns, organizations and networks, leadership and collective action). We used pooled generalized estimating equation regression with a Poisson distribution to estimate risk ratios (RR) for the association of village-level CM score and CM components with incident HIV infection, accounting for village-level clustering and adjusting for key covariates. RESULTS: There were 194 incident infections over the follow-up period. For every additional standard deviation of village-level CM there was 12% lower HIV incidence (RR: 0.88, 95% CI: 0.79, 0.98) after adjusting for individual, household and community characteristics. CM components associated with lower HIV incidence included critical consciousness (RR: 0.88; CI: 0.79, 0.97) and leadership (RR: 0.87; CI: 0.79, 0.95); while not statistically significant, social cohesion (RR: 0.91; CI: 0.81, 1.01), shared concerns (RR: 0.90; CI: 0.81, 1.00), and organizations and networks (RR: 0.91; CI: 0.79, 1.03) may also play a protective role. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that having strong community social resources will reduce AGYW’s risk of HIV acquisition. Work to mobilize communities, focusing on building social cohesion, shared concerns, critical consciousness, and effective and accountable leadership, can fortify prevention programming for AGYW.