HIV heterogeneity and proximity of homestead to roads in rural South Africa: an exploration using a geographical information system

Trop Med Int Health. 2000 Jan;5(1):40-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3156.2000.00513.x.


objective To describe heterogeneity of HIV prevalence among pregnant women in Hlabisa health district, South Africa and to correlate this with proximity of homestead to roads. methods HIV prevalence measured through anonymous surveillance among pregnant women and stratified by local village clinic. Polygons were created around each clinic, assuming women attend the clinic nearest their home. A geographical information system (GIS) calculated the mean distance from homesteads in each clinic catchment to nearest primary (1 degrees ) and to nearest primary or secondary (2 degrees ) road. results We found marked HIV heterogeneity by clinic catchment (range 19-31% (P < 0.001). A polygon plot demonstrated lower HIV prevalence in catchments remote from 1 degrees roads. Mean distance from homesteads to nearest 1 degrees or 2 degrees road varied by clinic catchment from 1623 to 7569 m. The mean distance from homesteads to a 1 degrees or 2 degrees road for each clinic catchment was strongly correlated with HIV prevalence (r = 0.66; P = 0.002). conclusions The substantial HIV heterogeneity in this district is closely correlated with proximity to a 1 degrees or 2 degrees road. GIS is a powerful tool to demonstrate and to start to analyse this observation. Further research is needed to better understand this relationship both at ecological and individual levels, and to develop interventions to reduce the spread of HIV infection.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Information Systems
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Transportation


  • HIV Antibodies