The proposed study draws data from an ongoing European Commission DG XII funded cohort study entitled: " Behavioural, immunological and virology correlates of HIV-1 infection and super infection in rural Tanzania" The applicant was responsible for setting up an open cohort of 600 female bar workers who are seen on a three- monthly basis over three years creating data on about 7000 separate contacts. Follow up was 85% after one and a half years of the study and HIV and STI incidences remained high. Data collection for the proposed study will be completed by the start of the fellowship. The overall objective of the proposed research combining social science with medicine in a multidisciplinary approach is to contribute to the development of reliable and valid monitoring tools for measuring risk behaviours influencing the transmission of HIV and STI. The specific objectives and methods are the following:
1. To analyse HIV, STI and socio-behavioural data of the high-risk cohort using appropriate statistical techniques.
2. To compare different methods for self-reported risk behaviour (face-to-face reports, self-administered questionnaires and diaries) through comparison of reliability of answers in different formats.
3. To validate self reported risk behaviour against biomarkers for STI (Gonorrhoea, Chlamydeous, Trichomonas, Syphilis), HIV, HSV-2, pregnancy and sperm through cross-tabulation of selected self-reported risk factors with biomarkers.
4. To test the most reliable methods for obtaining self-reported risk behaviour in an existing general population cohort, and to investigate feasibility and usefulness of biomarker checks in this setting. The European Community funds several research studies within the INCO Programme and intervention programmes within its HIV/AIDS programme in need of improved strategies for obtaining valid data on sensitive issues. All research and intervention activities would benefit greatly from the outcome of this study.
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