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Journal of Water and Health Vol 12 No 2 pp 288–300 © IWA Publishing 2014 doi:10.2166/wh.2013.185

Ceramic water filters impregnated with silver nanoparticles as a point-of-use water-treatment intervention for HIV-positive individuals in Limpopo Province, South Africa: a pilot study of technological performance and human health benefits

Lydia Shawel Abebe, James A. Smith, Sophia Narkiewicz, Vinka Oyanedel-Craver, Mark Conaway, Alukhethi Singo, Samie Amidou, Paul Mojapelo, Julia Brant and Rebecca Dillingham

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Virginia, PO Box 400742, 351 McCormick Road, Thornton Hall, Rm. B228, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Rhode Island, Bliss Hall 213, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
Department of Public Health Sciences, Public Health Sciences Hospital West, University of Virginia, PO Box 800717, 3181, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Department of Microbiology, University of Venda, Department of Chemistry, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Department of Medicine, University of Virginia, PO Box 801379, Charlottesville, VA, USA E-mail: rd8v@virginia.edu


Waterborne pathogens present a significant threat to people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (PLWH). This study presents a randomized, controlled trial that evaluates whether a household-level ceramic water filter (CWF) intervention can improve drinking water quality and decrease days of diarrhea in PLWH in rural South Africa. Seventy-four participants were randomized in an intervention group with CWFs and a control group without filters. Participants in the CWF arm received CWFs impregnated with silver nanoparticles and associated safe-storage containers. Water and stool samples were collected at baseline and 12 months. Diarrhea incidence was self-reported weekly for 12 months. The average diarrhea rate in the control group was 0.064 days/week compared to 0.015 days/week in the intervention group (p < 0.001, Mann–Whitney). Median reduction of total coliform bacteria was 100% at enrollment and final collection. CWFs are an acceptable technology that can significantly improve the quality of household water and decrease days of diarrhea for PLWH in rural South Africa.

Keywords: ceramic water filters; Cryptosporidium parvum; HIV; point-of-use; South Africa

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