On May 29, 20 participants engaged in a virtual dialogue to share new COVID-19 gender-related questionnaires and their experiences in continuing their research projects during the pandemic. Internal RTI affiliates discussed innovative qualitative tools currently being used to enhance biomedical research for HIV prevention during the time of COVID-19, including the use of prototypes to elicit detailed data and enhance the relationship between researchers and participants. Researchers also discussed the transition of global project activities (e.g., Zimbabwe) from face-to-face to virtual (e.g., WhatsApp) and overcoming barriers, as well as issues participants are experiencing such as an inability to obtain their PrEP medications, food insecurity, and a lack of available social support. Core questionnaires related to COVID-19 will be implemented across several African studies with young women. Additionally, in a South African study with adolescent girls and young women seeking to increase PrEP uptake and adherence, access to sexual and reproductive health services, and reduce stigma, researchers obtained ethics approval to conduct de-identified data entry and cleaning remotely and to conduct a COVID-19 survey virtually. The research team also ensured that participants on PrEP received a 2-3 month supply of refills ahead of the South African lockdown on March 26. In addition, a study nurse was hired to conduct screening and refills on certain days. A video from the Ndlovu Youth Choir on how to properly wash your hands was also shared with study participants. You can watch it HERE! Participants stated that they were very touched that the research team continued to offer support and stay in communication.
Gender-related COVID-19 resources as well as the virtual session recording are available to RTI GGC affiliates upon request, and accessible on the Center's internal share drive.