Zambart, CIDRZ and AERAS Train Community TB Advocates

Zambart and its collaborating partner Centre for Infectious Diseases in Zambia (CIDRZ) in the Phase IIb trial of a new tuberculosis vaccine awaiting activation, held a two-day training for TB community advocates at Lusaka’s Cresta Golfview Hotel.

IMG_444950 community engagement advocates drawn from various community based organisations in Lusaka’s Kanyama and Kalingalinga compounds, the study sites for the vaccine trial, attended the workshop, which was aimed at strengthening community engagement and advocacy capacity on TB treatment.

The trial also called TB 018, is being jointly conducted by Aeras and GlaxoSmithkline Vaccines, S.A. (GSK), and is a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled study. Overall, the trial will enrol more than 3500 healthy adults, with latent (asymptomatic) TB infection (LTBI), ages 18-50 in three sub-Saharan African countries namely Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa.IMG_4453

Zambart has been conducting various clinical trials in TB in Zambia and beyond, for over 2 decades now.

IAG Representatives Visit PopART Study Sites

HPTN 071 International Advisory Group visit Chipulukusu, Kanyama, Chawama and Chipata sites:

IMG_5508 Co-funders of the HPTN 071/PopART study and members of the International Advisory Group (IAG) visited Zambia in February, and took time to visit arm A and C sites in Chipulukusu (Ndola), Chipata and Chawama (Lusaka) to get a ground level view of how the study is progressing.

The IAG team comprised representatives from the Global Fund, World Health Organisation (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), US National Institutes of Health,  and US National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

P1010372Local site staff were on hand to receive and give the IAG members who had split into groups for the respective site tours. From head office PopART study site PI Dr Helen Ayles, PopART study manager Dr Kwame Shanaube, intervention manager Ephraim Sakala, population cohort manager Justin Bwalya, and HIV testing quality control manager Comfort Rutty Phiri, joined the site-based staff who included respective district intervention coordinators, district administrators, Community HIV Care providers (CHiPs), and community mobilisers.

The IAG members were able to observe day-to-day activities at the Kanyama, Chipata, and Chawama first level hospitals as well as Chipulukusu health clinic where their tour of the facilities were led  by the respective sister in-charges. Twinning-at-Kanyama-04.02.2015-049They met with the PopART clinical research nurses and visited the ART clinics, ART pharmacies, laboratories and Data rooms where they interacted with heads of department on the number of cases, flow and processing of patients, and investigations carried out on clients and distribution of results, and filing of clients’ record. They also visited other hospital departments like the Mother and Child Health (MCH), main Laboratory.

Meanwhile in the field where they had been paired to accompany the CHiPs in the community, the advisors got to observe CHIPs offering the intervention Twinning-at-Kanyama-04.02.2015-058package including conducting the HIV rapid tests. However, not all IAG teams were able to go out in the field because of rainy weather, for example in Chawama. .

The IAG  team noteda marked improvement in the delivery of the PopART intervention in the community and at the sites, and expressed satisfaction. Specifically, they noted the amount of work put in by the CHiPS when offering health education about the various PoPART interventions, and the fact that clients were not pressured into consenting to be enrolled in the study. The advisors were also able to directly the various field teams.


HPTN 071 Case Control Studies

Evaluation of universal HIV testing in PopART study underway:

IMG_3868A third sub-study of the on-going HPTN 071/PopART study has started in the Zambia PopART sites. The Case Control Studies will seek to evaluate the home-based PopART intervention delivered house-to-house by the Community HIV Care Providers (CHiPs). The studies will specifically examine the HIV testing, a key component of the PopART intervention package, and will be progressively rolled out in arms A and B sites in Zambia. In March, the case Control studies will be extended to a further 6 intervention sites in South Africa.

IMG_3877Clinical epidemiologist, Dr Kalpana Sabapathy working on the PopART trial and manager of the Case Control studies explained that the cases are randomly selected to represent the wider community to help PopART researchers understand the features and factors associated with the uptake and non-uptake of the PopART services in the first year of the PopART trial, and adapt the intervention accordingly.

“It was always anticipated that not everybody would accept the testing intervention, which is key in Universal Test and Treat approach. We planned this study as part of the main design of the trial to evaluate acceptability of the testing in the intervention after the 1st year to facilitate improvements which may be introduced in the 2nd and 3rd years,” Dr Sabapathy explained.

IMG_3869She said that by looking at differences between 2 groups of cases, researchers will get insight into sub-sets of the community not accepting the PopART intervention and allow them to adapt it in a bid to get those people not accepting the intervention to accept it eventually: “To achieve overall PopART goal of universal home-based testing,” Dr Sabapathy said.

The Case Control studies will run over a period of 2 months and involve 500 people in Zambia, and 300 in South Africa.