In a country with especially high rates of HIV infection, many men in South Africa do not receive testing and treatment. Mark Lurie, assistant professor of epidemiology and medicine, will work with collaborators in Cape Town to test a new program to better retain men in care.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With more HIV-infected people than any other country, South Africa remains a major locus of the global AIDS epidemic. Among the problems sustaining the spread of the virus there, is that men often drop out of the “cascade” of testing, treatment, and care. Mark Lurie, assistant professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University, hopes a new grant will help him keep more men engaged.

In his research, Lurie has learned that men often drop out because the system is fragmented between stages in the cascade and because of coordination gaps between the health system and community services. With the new $1.6-million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, Lurie will work with collaborator Christopher Colvin of the University of Cape Town on a three-part project: They will study the problems, design a new health information management intervention to better coordination to the systems, and then test the intervention. The project is part of a broad collaboration between Brown and UCT.

“In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, men are less likely to get tested for HIV than women, less likely to get linked to HIV care than women, and less likely to adhere to HIV treatment than women,” Lurie said. “We urgently need interventions aimed at men to encourage them to get tested for HIV and to link them to care if infected. Our project is a partnership with a dynamic local NGO, Sonke Gender Justice, to implement and test a scalable intervention aimed at improving these outcomes for men in Cape Town, South Africa.”