Last week, Global WACh researchers shared their study results with HIV/AIDS experts across the globe at the International AIDS Society Conference in Paris, France. Check out highlights from Global WACh studies on family planning misconceptions among postpartum adolescents, low retention of women enrolled in Option B+ in Mozambique, financial incentivization for pediatric HIV testing, and a cost analysis for young adults seeking free HIV testing services below. Their studies contribute to HIV science and the global effort to eliminate HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Drs. Irene Njuguna (right) and Anjuli Wagner (left) visit the Eiffel Tower in between sessions at the IAS Conference 2017
Invited Talks from Global WACh Members
Dr. Alison Drake was an invited plenary speaker at the 9th Annual Pediatric HIV Workshop. She gave a presentation entitled “A Last Barrier to eMTCT: Acute HIV Infection in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.”
Dr. Anjuli Wagner was an invited panelist at a CIPHER satellite session in a discussion on “The role of implementation science in pediatric and adolescent HIV”.
Dr. Grace John-Stewart gave a talk on “mHealth interventions for ensuring effective Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission” at the IAS mHealth and Global HIV Response Workshop.
Poster Presentations from Global WACh Scholars and Researchers:
Dr. Alison Drake: “Desire to prove fertility and contraceptive misconceptions delay family planning and condom use until after pregnancy among Kenyan adolescents”
Adolescent women in Kenya are experiencing a high risk of unintended pregnancies and HIV infection. Dr. Alison Drake and her team hoped to better understand these misconceptions, and reveal their impact on HIV prevention and family planning decisions. The team surveyed postpartum HIV-free adolescents at two maternal-child health clinics in Western Kenya. Despite familiarity with contraception methods, many adolescents held misconceptions on the social acceptability of using them. Many believed that long-term methods increased the risk of HIV infection and transmission. Should they become HIV-positive, some feared harmful side-effects by combining medication with the birth control hormones. Family Planning Health Care Workers (FP HCW) were also surveyed on their perception of contraception effects and benefits. FP HCW did not feel supported in training and experience, and lack of staff to manage more patients. Overall, the team found that adolescent’s perception of contraception is shaped by social norms and misinformation from their community. The study suggests the need for innovative strategies to encourage dual method use (condom and another method), utilize of mobile health tools, improve HCW training and experience, and integrate family planning in prenatal care.
Dr. Irene Njuguna, “Financial incentives to increase pediatric HIV testing in Kenya (FIT STUDY): A randomized trial
Children with HIV infection have a high risk of dying if they are not diagnosed and treated early. Finding older children with HIV is challenging because there aren’t built-in health systems for systematic HIV testing of exposed children once PMTCT is completed. Reasons why parents don’t have their children tested include fear or denial that their children may be infected and financial burdens. The FIT Study will determine whether small cash incentives can motivate HIV-infected parents to test their children for HIV. Irene Njuguna, PhD Epidemiology student, presented FIT’s pilot research poster at the conference. The pilot study recruited 60 HIV-infected mothers with children of unknown HIV status, who were randomly assigned a cash incentive valued at $5, $10, or $15USD. 72% of women completed HIV testing for their children, which was significantly higher than unincentivized testing rates in a previous study in the same region (14%). Dr. Njuguna is now leading a trial evaluating incentive efficacy, which is enrolling 800 HIV-infected caregivers and will compare testing rates between no incentive and $1.25, $2.50, $5 or $10.
Anjuli Wagner, “Can Adolescents and Youth in Kenya Afford Free HIV Testing Services? A Cost Analysis”
Although free HIV testing services may be available to adolescents and young adults (AYA), non-medical costs related to travel and time off school or work may pose as barriers for AYA to actually access such services. Anjuli Wagner, post-doctoral fellow worked with a team from the University of Washington, University of Nairobi, and Kenyatta National Hospital to identify those costs and the possible burden they cause to AYA. The study interviewed 189 AYA aged 14-24 who completed free HIV counseling and testing at Kenyatta National Hospital. The team discovered 62% of AYA paid for non-medical costs, such as transportation and meals during their HIV test visit. Most AYA are students and unemployed, and 42% reported missing at least half a day of school to accommodate travel time and HIV testing services. The results suggest achieving universal HIV testing among AYA may require interventions to reduce their burden of indirect costs.
Keshet Ronen, “SMS messaging to improve adherence to PMTCT/ART: perspectives on HIV-related content among peripartum HIV-infected women in Kenya”
Keshet Ronen, PhD, research scientist, presented data on SMS messaging preferences among pregnant and postpartum women with HIV. There is growing evidence that SMS can be used to improve HIV treatment adherence and retention in care, but there has been concern about risks of HIV status disclosure through phone messages. In formative work for an ongoing clinical trial that evaluates the impact of SMS messaging on HIV treatment and prevention of mother-to-child transmission, Mobile WACh-X, 10 focus group discussions were conducted with 87 peri-partum women to explore their preferences regarding SMS containing overt HIV-related language or language that may bring attending to the recipient’s HIV status (e.g. ‘HIV’, ‘ART’, ‘infection’, ‘medication’). Some women desired overt messages regarding their HIV medications and the option to ask overt questions using the mHealth system, while some women, especially those who had not disclosed their status or shared their phone, preferred to receive and send only covert messages. Based on these findings, the Mobile WACh-X system was designed to provide all three options and allow women to choose. In the ongoing trial, most participants who have disclosed their status or own their own phone chose either overtly HIV-related SMS (65% of participants) or the option to send overt messages to the system (10% of participants).