Institute for Global Health


Sixhumene: we are connected

Sixhumene: Using social networks to understand and intervene on HIV epidemic spread.

Despite advances, HIV remains a major problem worldwide, notably in South Africa. One reason for the ongoing epidemic is low uptake of proven interventions, such as regular HIV testing and medicines to protect those at risk of infection. We know that people are often more willing to change their behaviour when someone they respect suggests it. This project aims to identify who influences the behaviours of young people in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and to assess how these influencers can help prevent HIV transmission.

To achieve this we will follow a cohort of young South Africans, and the people they consider important in their lives, for three years. We will see how these important people change, and how these changes affect young people’s behaviour and risk of getting HSV-2 and HIV. Then we will pick people to become peer-educators based on how influential they are. We will see if these influential people are better at getting their friends to take up interventions than people chosen at random. This work will be conducted at the Africa Health Research Institute.