Targeting “hot zones” where the HIV epidemic is more severe and individuals’ risk-taking is high is a much more effective way to roll out the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), according to a modeling study conducted about South Africa. Publishing their findings in Nature Communications, researchers designed a computer model that calculated and mapped HIV incidence in South Africa and detected the hot zones.

The three major factors the model considered were how the population is dispersed across South Africa, how the severity of the epidemic varies from place to place, and how behavior influencing HIV risk varies geographically. After identifying two hot zones in South Africa, the researchers then used the model to project how an equitable strategy of rolling out PrEP in South Africa and a strategy of targeting the country’s hot zones would each affect new cases of HIV.

The researchers found that, with the same number of users in the respective approaches, the targeted strategy would prevent 40 percent more HIV cases than a blanket approach. They believe this strategy also applies to other sub-Saharan nations.

To read a press release on the study, click here.