Participate in clinical trials in Joburg, Durban and PE to help beat HIV

Monday 2 December 2019: As the world focused on World Aids Day yesterday, the Clinical HIV Research Unit (CHRU) is calling on communities in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban to take part in ground breaking clinical trials to help end HIV and associated diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and cervical cancer.

“You could become a participant in a worldwide clinical trial that is seeking new and improved methods of treating, preventing and diagnosing HIV, HIV-associated cancers and TB,” says Mirriam Manamathela, who supervises the CHRU counsellors that work with communities. “There are a number of different trials taking place. When you come to a CHRU research site in Johannesburg, Durban or Port Elizabeth, you will be evaluated based on your symptoms and health condition, and then recommended for a trial that will benefit you the most. You receive the highest quality care when taking part in a clinical trial, as we have to closely monitor the response to treatment.

“Our trials apply the latest scientific and technological advances to achieve better health outcomes for participants, and for the many patients who benefit after them,” says Manamathela. “Trials are conducted according to international best practice standards. Every person that takes part also makes a contribution to benefitting science and society – as well as themselves.”

Community outreach events will be held in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth this week and in Durban next week for people to find out more. The event in Durban is geared towards young people who were born with HIV.

Deputy director at CHRU, Dr Mohammed Rassool, says, “Our unit was involved in studies that helped test the breakthrough antiretroviral (ARV), dolutegravir, that will soon become the first choice ARV in SA. Trials for the new drug were conducted globally and our unit was one of the South African sites that contributed to making the drug available to HIV positive people across the world.”

All clinical trial research sites the world over have a community advisory board (CAB).  Says Manamathela, “The role of the CAB is to protect participants. We work with international networks and the world’s leading clinicians to improve treatment, shorten treatment time, reduce side-effects, make it easier for patients to take medicine and make it less expensive for all.

“CABs help participants understand how a study works, what is required of them, and how CHRU will support them. Without people volunteering to take part in a study, new trials could not take place, and new and better treatments and even cures could not be found,” she says.

CHRU’s research agenda is aligned with the international health priorities of the World Health Organisation. It partners with public health organisations and its successful research informs national guidelines.

Participate in a trial
The Clinical HIV Research Unit is currently calling for participants to take part in six different studies.

There are two studies concerned with shortening treatment for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), one study focuses on preventing infection in households where MDR-TB patients live, and one study considers the long-term outcomes of TB. Patients with TB or MDR-TB can participate. There is also a study focusing on adults who are HIV positive and have not responded to their antiretroviral treatment and lastly, a study for sexually active people older than 14 who have symptoms of sexually transmitted infections.

Community outreach events
“We will be out in communities during December, as part of our World Aids Day activities. We support the global theme of this year’s World Aids Day, which is ‘communities make the difference’,” says Manamathela. All are welcome at these events.

Johannesburg, Tuesday 3 December 2019
The Helen Joseph Hospital CAB will hold a community outreach event at Westbury Flats from 9am – 2pm.

Johannesburg, Wednesday 4 December 2019
The Sizwe Tropical Disease Hospital CAB in Sandringham will hold an event at the hospital from 11am -2pm. The theme of the event is ‘it is my right to know my status’.

Johannesburg, Thursday 5 December 2019
The Helen Joseph Hospital CAB will also hold an event at the Zamimpilo Informal Settlement from 9am -2pm.

Port Elizabeth, Friday 6 December 2019
The Empilweni TB Hospital CAB will hold a community outreach at the Kwazakhele Boxer shopping centre from 8:30am – 1pm. The theme for the event is ‘test me, treat me’.

Durban, Friday 13 December 2019
The King DinuZulu Hospital CAB  will observe World Aids Day on Friday 13 December 2019 at the Kwa Mashu Community Health Centre from 10am – 1pm. The outreach is being held in partnership with the centre. Primary and high school learners and all young adults who were born HIV positive, and have lived with HIV for many years, are welcome. The theme of the event is ‘know your status and take your treatment.

Anyone interested in attending the outreach events or taking part in a clinical trial should contact: