Tag Archives: Botswana Combination Prevention Project

Are Migrants Driving the Epidemic?

People waiting for the Ferry to Botswana in Kazungula.

By Martha Henry

When “Treatment as Prevention” was named Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year in 2011, there was optimism that we were closing in on AIDS. Results published from the HPTN 052 trial that year showed that in discordant couples, giving antiretroviral treatment (ART) to people with HIV not only was good for their own health, but also lowered the levels of HIV in their blood to undetectable levels, making the chance of infecting their partners extremely unlikely. Continue reading

Botswana Leads in HIV Treatment

From left: Lyorlumun Uhaa, UNICEF; Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS; Max Essex, Harvard AIDS Initiative; Pride Chigwedere, UNAIDS, at a meeting for African Leaders in Addis Ababa. Photo by Aida Muluneh

By Martha Henry

Billions of dollars are spent every year on HIV/AIDS treatment programs. But how well are they working?
In the African country of Botswana, where 25% of adults (aged 16-49) are HIV positive, the answer is extremely well. In a recent paper in The Lancet HIV, researchers showed that Botswana is close to reaching the ambitious UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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.

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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. Continue reading

The Trouble of Finding People at Home: Adapting to a Mobile Society

A Research Assistant locating households.

By Martha Henry

The Botswana equivalent of knock knock is ko ko. For the Botswana
Combination Prevention Project field team, trying to contact family members of the 20% of randomly selected households in each village is their biggest challenge.
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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 I am confident this shall become one of BHP’s blue chip studies. I wish the team success and God’s Speed as they roll out this immensely challenging study.
Joe
Dr. Joseph Makhema
C.E.O. Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute

Evolving Guidelines

It was the first week of June in 2015. The BCPP leadership team was stressed. There were even more conference calls than usual. Two upcoming events could change the course of the trial. The first was a June 11th meeting of the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda. The second was the July meeting of the International AIDS Society (IAS) in Vancouver.

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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 help you hold the bag as you gather them. There has to be somebody to help you.

“With this study we are saying, the fight against HIV is complicated—we need people to help us. And now these three partners, Harvard, CDC, and the government of Botswana, have come together to try to prevent HIV and keep it from spreading. The more hands you have to the problem, the better.”

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, they won’t show the hard work, mistakes, corrections, and triumphs of the field team. The data won’t reveal the thousands of daily interactions between the Research Assistants (RAs) and the villagers—the stories condensed into each data point. Continue reading

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 have arrived in this village and this is the beginning of the study. We are here to invite and encourage you to, first, spread the message about the study. Secondly we encourage you to take part in this study whose purpose is to come up with measures which can stop the spread of HIV in the society.

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