The Madibeng Centre for Research (MCR) was established in 2001 as a community-based research centre that would generate evidence to help guide health decisions in the community. The MCR’s mission is to conduct high-quality, comprehensive health research. The vision of MCR is to be a sustainable, community-based health research centre of international repute.

Over the past 17 years, the MCR has played a significant role in clinical research, working on various multi-centre, multi-national trials in South Africa across a wide range of medical disciplines.

MCR began recruiting participants for the ECHO Study on 27 April 2016. In this Q&A, the team reflects on their experience during the study:

What lessons did you learn during ECHO?

We learned that male engagement events increased male participation. These were events specifically for the male partners of study participants. During these events, male partners were given information about the study and contraceptives and were then given opportunities to ask questions and voice concerns about their partners’ participation in the study. We noticed that these sessions helped reduce misconceptions about the study and research processes. We also noticed an increase in the number of male partners supporting their female partners.

What were the most surprising things about ECHO?

We are surprised by the change in preference regarding the IUD. Participants randomised to the IUD were initially afraid of this method, but after providing counselling around misconceptions and myths, we find that the IUD is now the most preferred method. We have seen this in the number of participants choosing the IUD after exiting the study.

What has been the response in the community? 

The community is excited about the purpose of the study and is looking forward to the study results next year. Community members are also excited about the opportunity given to young women to be able to participate in the study. The community is looking forward to future HIV/AIDS prevention studies to happen within their community.

We would like to thank Rose Masilo, Community Liaison Officer; Dr Cheryl Louw, Principle Investigator; and the entire Madibeng Research Centre team for their dedication to this important study and their contributions to this article.

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