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Let's Talk HIV Prevention - Communities, Have Your Say!

This event is part of the 2011 Let’s Talk HIV Prevention series sponsored by the Enterprise. For more information about these events, click here.

City, Country:  Kampala, Uganda

 Organization Hosting Event:   Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP)

 Organization’s website:  www.muwrp.org (website under construction)

 Date/Time:  Saturday, 14 May 2011 / 14:30 – 17:30                

Location:   Football ground, immediately outside of Mulago Hospital, the national referral hospital

Event Report (submitted by the hosting organization):

MUWRP hosted an exciting, highly interactive and educative event at which local people from different socio-economic backgrounds directly engaged researchers on varied issues on HIV vaccines, microbicides and PrEP.  The event, organized as a round table discussion forum and broadcast live for one hour on one of the most popular local FM radio stations – Radio Simba, attracted approximately 200 people.  MUWRP Country Program Director, Ms. Monica Millard was also in attendance.  We also estimate to have reached thousands of local and international listeners as evidence from live phone-in calls and questions sent from the diaspora through the station’s chat room indicated.

The panellists included 2 senior scientists (Dr. Clemensia Nakabiito - Makerere University Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration and Dr. Patrick Ndase - International Clinical Research for Infectious Diseases) and 2 young investigators (Dr. Juliet Mpendo - Uganda Virus Research Institute-International AIDS Vaccine Initiative HIV Vaccine Program and Dr. Arthur Sekiziyivu – MUWRP).  Some of the questions asked included;

•    What happened after the Thailand HIV vaccine study?
•    Can someone use all 3 strategies at once if they are in a study to increase chances of protection?
•    How often is the vaccine given to someone when they join the study? Is it given only once or multiple times?
•    Why do you take off too much blood from people in your studies?
•    Will these products be given to us free if the studies are successful?
•    Why do you test the vaccines in animals first?  Is it because you think we got HIV from animals?
•    How effective is PrEP?
•    Is PrEP the same as PEP?
•    Do these strategies work for all the different types of HIV virus we have in our country?
•    If a woman uses the gel, should her partner use it as well?
•    Does the gel affect the woman’s reproductive system?
•    Does the gel enlarge a woman’s vagina if applied everyday?
•    Will the gel help a woman even when her uterus is removed?
•    If a woman is using contraception, can’t the gel affect the method she is using?

Prior to the discussion, the panellists were given 10 minutes each to talk about a strategy they felt comfortable discussing.  The discussion was moderated by a popular local radio talk show host and punctuated by musical interludes from two popular local artistes - a married couple, now at the fore front of various HIV prevention campaigns.  
The event aimed to; Raise public awareness on HIV vaccines, microbicides and PrEP research in Uganda as well as set a foundation for public engagement on the field outside the scope of protocol specific activities.  It was documented on video and the live radio broadcast recorded and stored on cassette tape.  The preferred language of communication was Luganda, a local dialect.

We hope to interest fellow biomedical research partners to join us in hosting similar discussion forums every year, now that we know it is possible to successfully organize one.


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