SA research unit calls for young board members to help end HIV and TB

Thursday, 18 July 2019: One of SA’s leading research units, the Clinical HIV Research Unit (CHRU), which is part of the Wits Health Consortium, has set up a youth community advisory board to help ensure breakthrough science. This board helps to build public understanding about clinical trials without which advances to treat and end diseases would not be possible.

Community advisory boards are a critical component of clinical trial units as they carry out community engagement and recruit participants for studies, linking local communities with clinical research sites.

Matshepo Maloma who is the social work manager and head of counselling at CHRU says that the youth community advisory board is an extension of the main CHRU community advisory board, and will fulfill the same responsibilities, focusing on youth.

She explains, “On Nelson Mandela Day, we are calling on young people to join our community engagement programme which is geared to prevent and treat HIV, HIV-associated cancers and TB. Significant progress has been made in eradicating HIV/Aids but more needs to be done to address HIV amongst young people where prevalence rates remain alarmingly high. Members of a community advisory board offer their services voluntarily, so applicants aged 18 – 25 need to be working for NGOs and have experience in community work.”

Professor Ian Sanne, clinical director of CHRU and CEO of leading health NGO Right to Careexplains, “This is an important development in our community outreach programme as it focuses on those aged 18 – 25 who are affected by HIV. We are excited about the potential it holds to improve health outcomes amongst young men and women.”

Maloma says, “As CHRU’s clinical trials focus on HIV/Aids, HIV-associated cancers and TB, the advisory boards recruit, provide education about these diseases and then support participants in clinical trials.

“Our youth board will also facilitate contributions from young people to our research processes. As an independent advisory structure, it will ensure better communication between our researchers and the young participants.”

Community advisory boards protect the rights of participants according to Good Clinical Practicean international ethical and scientific quality standard for designing, conducting, recording and reporting trials that involve the participation of human subjects. In addition they must comply with requirements set out by South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and other regulatory organisations.

“The youth advisory board will work closely with young men and women to improve patient care, reduce risk and support them on their healthcare journey,” she adds.

The youth CAB will comprise ten members who should come from communities in and around Johannesburg. To participate, send a CV to mmaloma@witshealth.co.za.

ENDS

The Clinical HIV Research Unit (CHRU) is a division of the Wits Health Consortium which is part of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Witwatersrand. It runs clinical trials undertaking clinical research to prevent, treat and manage HIV/Aids, TB and associated diseases.

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