The Blood in the Freezer

BHP Lab Technician

By Martha Henry One tiny vial of blood contains a remarkable amount of genetic information about both the person from whom it was drawn and infectious agents like HIV circulating at the time of the needle prick. Because HIV mutates so quickly, having access to lots of samples to study is a valuable resource. “It’s a diamond for science,” said Sikhulile Moyo, Laboratory Manager at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute…

After the Capture: The Care and Treatment of Data

Erik van Widenfelt

By Martha Henry “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay!” ~ Sherlock Holmes Science depends on data. A large clinical trial like the Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) depends on lots of data. When the multi-year trial in 30 Botswana villages concludes, researchers hope their data will provide a better understanding of how to prevent HIV infections.

Erik van Widenfelt

When he first arrived in Botswana, Erik wasn’t an IT guy. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in cellular and molecular biology, he joined the Peace Corps in 1986 and taught science and English in Ghanzi, a dusty outpost on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. When his two-year assignment was up, he stayed on.

What is Data Cleaning?

Nealia Khan

Data cleaning is the process of detecting and correcting bad records in a data file. Much of the early Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) data came from a baseline household questionnaire. Research Assistants (RAs) interviewed thousands of study participants and recorded their answers on laptops. The use of customized software minimized data entry errors.

The Inner Life of a Complex Clinical Trial

Team Meeting at the BHP Photo By Dominic Chavez

Sent: October 30, 2013 Subject: YA TSIE-In the Field Hi, This is to confirm that the YA TSIE Study—The Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) is underway and the team deployed today 30th October in the field at both Ranaka and Digawana. While there have been challenges and some initial delay in study initiation, it is with great confidence in the team and their ability to rise up to challenges that…

The Meaning of Ya Tsie

Ya Tsie logo

In the Setswana language, the name of the Botswana Combination Prevention Project is Ya Tsie, a term Dr. Mompati Mmalane came up with. The name comes from a proverb that roughly translates as “Teamwork bears more fruit than individual effort.” Mmalane explains: “In the past, we used to gather locusts to eat. If you put locusts in a bag, they will fly out. To keep them in, somebody has to…

A Month in Shakawe: The Field Team at Work

Keotshepile Molokwane (right) interviews a woman in her yard in Shakawe.

By Martha Henry Tourists who visit Botswana’s scenic Okavango Delta rarely visit Shakawe, the most remote village participating in the Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP), a large HIV-prevention trial of over 100,000 people. The results of the trial will likely end up as an orderly table published in a prestigious medical journal. Though the numbers in that table may provide much-needed evidence on how best to operate HIV/AIDS programs across the globe,…

Greetings to You All

A BCPP truck with loudspeaker broadcasts in Shakawe.

When the field team for the Botswana Combination Prevention Project arrives in a village, loudspeakers announce the start of the study. Our people! Greetings to you all! We are members of the Ya Tsie study which you might have heard about already at a recent Kgotla meeting or have read about it in the flyers posted in different places in your village. This is to let you know that we…