We develop and use mathematical models that describe changes in the South African population over the last decades, brought on by HIV and AIDS. We do not model all the phases in HIV progression but rather, we show that a relatively simple model is sufficient to represent the data and allows us to investigate important aspects of HIV infection: firstly, we are able to investigate the effect of awareness on the prevalence of HIV and secondly, it enables us to make a comparison between South Africa and Botswana. A comparison is made between two models: a model that does not reflect awareness of the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS, and a model with an added psychological awareness factor. Both models are fitted to data that reflects the incidence of HIV and AIDS within South Africa. This allows us to examine the impact of psychological awareness. We show that inclusion of the effect of awareness is absolutely necessary to arrive at a model description that satisfactorily fits the available HIV and AIDS data for South Africa. We also show that a relatively simple modelling of awareness (as opposed to more complex mathematical techniques that have been used in past studies) is sufficient to accurately describe the observed patterns in the data. Even though awareness alone is not sufficient to eradicate any disease and other control strategies should be explored and implemented concurrently with educational campaigns, we are able to conclude (through thorough model analyses procedures) that the current level of awareness in South Africa is far below the level that is effectively required to eradicate HIV from the South African population. The awareness model is also fitted to HIV-related data for Botswana and we compare the results with the South African case. Though the effect of awareness is currently estimated at a much higher level in Botswana, other factors such as poorer health care and cultural differences may play a role in limiting the ability of awareness to combat HIV in Botswana.
- health educational campaigns
- transmission dynamics