Research Nomads

Keitumetse Tshwene, a Research Assistant, carries the equipment necessary for in-home HIV testing and counseling.

By Martha Henry Each of the two field teams for the Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) consists of 16 Research Assistants (RAs), seven drivers, two supervisors, two lab assistants, and two IT assistants. Team members come from across Botswana. In addition to Setswana, many of the RAs speak other local languages. They range in age from early 20s to late 30s. Many of them worked as HIV counselors before joining…

It Takes 30 Villages: Building Trust in a Clinical Trial

By Martha Henry Because of his own history, Dr. Mompati Mmalane had ideas about how best to introduce a complex clinical trial to communities like Shakawe, a remote village in northwestern Botswana. HIV is no stranger to rural villages. Although the national adult prevalence is 24%, the rate is much higher in some villages. Older adults remember the days before antiretroviral treatment (ART), when Saturdays were crowded with funerals for…

Counting to 73,700: A Guide to Randomization

Google Earth map of Shakawe, Botswana

From: Scott Dryden-Peterson Sent: Friday, June 19, 2015 Subject: BCPP milestone Today we completed mapping of the last study community. In one of the many remarkable behind-the-scenes contributions that has made a project of this scale possible, during nights and weekends over the past 18 months, Oaitse (cc’d here) single-handedly identified and labeled ~73,700 households from Ranaka to Shakawe. We are indebted to you, Oaitse. Thanks, Scott

Max Essex: The Persistent Investigator

Dr. Max Essex Photo by Dominic Chavez

By Martha Henry It’s unlikely that you’ll ever meet anyone more focused than Max Essex. A 1986 New York Times profile described him as “mild mannered” with “a thatch of thick hair” and “among those in the forefront of the worldwide effort to find a cure for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.” Today, though his hair is white, that description still fits. Essex, now in his 70s, still arrives at the…

The Botswana Combination Prevention Project: A Way to End the Epidemic?

BCPP field team members and villagers in Shakawe

By Martha Henry The end of AIDS as a public health threat may not come from an effective vaccine, as many had hoped for decades, but from a collaborative effort across nations to prevent new HIV infections. The epidemic that spread mainly through sexual connections may be subdued not from a single breakthrough, but through long-term transnational collaborations.

Videos of HAI/BHP Presenters at CROI

Missed the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, February 22-25, 2016? No worries. You can still view videos of major HAI/BHP presentations and press conferences.

Touch Down in Botswana: My Gap Year in an HIV/AIDS Lab

Elliot Eton in Botswana

By Elliot Eton I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac at Sir Seretse Khama Airport in Gaborone, Botswana. It was not as hot and humid as I had expected. After months of preparation, I had finally arrived. I was thrilled! My excitement, though, was not without nervousness. For one, my flight had been delayed. I was wondering if my pick-up ride would still be waiting. For another, I,…