In collaboration with the Tanzania National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

Preparing for clinical trials of interventions to improve the reproductive health of adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa (RHASA)

Principal Investigators: Deborah Watson-Jones (LSHTM), Soori Nnko (NIMR Mwanza), John Changalucha (NIMR Mwanza)

Project coordinator: Sarah Chiduo

Funder: EDCTP

The objectives of this project are to assess the acceptability of enrolling young adolescents into studies on reproductive health, including acceptability of the informed consent process and biomedical procedures (self-administered vaginal swabs), and to characterize the vaginal environment of young adolescent girls in Mwanza, Tanzania around the time of their sexual debut. The first phase of the study will consist of qualitative research into the acceptability of research on reproductive health among minors and the informed consent process, including issues of confidentiality. In the second phase, a cross-sectional study will be conducted among 400 in-school girls in Mwanza, half of whom have not yet passed their sexual debut. The girls will be interviewed and samples will be taken to test for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including T. vaginalis, C. albicans, N.gonorrhoeae, C.trachomatis, M. genitalium and human papillomavirus infection (HPV), Herpes simplex virus -2 infection and syphilis. The vaginal microbiome will be assessed with quantitative real time PCR (q RT PCR). This study will inform us about the need for the development and evaluation of interventions that reduce the susceptibility of women to HIV and other STIs, and that are adapted to young adolescents as they initiate sexual activity. The study will also inform us about approaches to informed consent and biomedical procedures in young adolescents.