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New study shows that advanced water filters and safe storage in households with hiv positive mothers reduces prevalence of diarrhea by more than half

New York, NY, 18 October — A new field study in Zambia assessed the impact of water filtration and safe storage in households with HIV positive mothers. Households were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups and followed for one year to assess filter use, drinking water quality and diarrheal disease. Results, published in PLOS ONE this month, found that this intervention resulted in a 53 percent reduction of diarrhea among children under two years and a 54 percent reduction among all household members.

Unsafe drinking water is a major health risk, especially to young children. But it also presents a particular threat to people living with HIV/AIDS. “People with compromised immune systems are vulnerable to opportunistic infections such as Cryptosporidiosis; diarrheal disease can also cause intestinal malabsorption so that people on antiretrovirals (ARVs) are not acquiring their essential nutrients and therapeutic dosagesof medications,” explained study senior-author Thomas Clasen, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Water, Sanitation and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Clasen added that “While WHO policy encourages exclusive breast-feeding for children to age two, even for HIV-positive mothers, safe water is critical when mothers choose to provide replacement feeding in order to prevent transmission of the virus via breast milk.”

The field study in Zambia assessed the usage and effectiveness of a high–performance water filter and jerry cans for safe storage after the water was purified. Intervention households were found to be using the filter on 96% of all monthly spot checks.

The LifeStraw® Family water filter was used in the study. LifeStraw® technology has received numerous awards. The LifeStraw® Family filter meets the highest WHO and US EPA standards for microbiological performance and delivers at least 18,000 liters of safe drinking water, enough to supply a family of five with safe drinking water for three years or more. A new version of the filter, which incorporates a safe storage chamber, costs about $30 or about $1.20 per person per year.

The World Health Organization stated in a recent report that “household water treatment (HWT) interventions may play an important role in protecting public health where existingwater sources, including those delivered via a piped network or other improved sources, are untreated, are not treated properly or become contaminated during distribution or storage.” This can make an immediate difference to the lives of healthy people and those who are HIV positive.

“This study and others with similarly impressive results should help demonstrate to governments and donor groups that household water interventions are powerful tools forimproving the health of vulnerable people” said Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen. The company’s LifeStraw® Family water filters were used in the study.

The study was a collaboration between researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. It included 599 persons from 120 households with children under two years old—100 with HIV positive mothers and 20 with HIV negative mothers, to reduce the stigma of participation.

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Vestergaard Frandsen is a global company headquartered in Switzerland that specializes in disease control products and novel ways to distribute them. Thisapproachcreates life-saving productsthat prevent waterborne, vector-borne and neglected tropicaldiseases in the developing world. Strong support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is a defining characteristic of the company.

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