Kenneth Mugwanya, an assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington School of Public Health, and his research team have received a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test the effectiveness of integrating methods of HIV prevention into sexual and reproductive health services for women in Kenya.
The UW researchers will partner with Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya to scale up the delivery of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in family planning clinics in Kisumu, a region where HIV prevalence among young women can reach as high as 28%.
“Ensuring that young women seeking access to effective contraceptive methods in Kenya specifically, and Africa in general, are also able to protect themselves from HIV is critical for women empowerment and ending the HIV epidemic,” said Mugwanya, a physician-epidemiologist by training.
“Our hope is that providing family planning and HIV prevention services in a one-stop location will minimize barriers that women face in accessing HIV prevention services, including lack of time, cost and potential stigma of visiting a facility solely for HIV prevention,” he added.
The new project will draw on lessons learned from a pilot study, also led by Mugwanya, in which researchers demonstrated that it was feasible to integrate PrEP services into family planning clinics with dedicated program staff. The pilot study revealed the need to design delivery models that would allow existing clinic staff to more efficiently provide both HIV prevention and family planning services for sustainability.
The research team will test a multifaceted implementation strategy in 12 family clinics using existing clinic staff to deliver the PrEP program. The team will evaluate the program’s effectiveness and impact. Investigators will also assess any barriers to integration as well as the program’s cost and the affordability of integrating PrEP delivery into the family planning clinics.
The results of this project could help inform a wider-scale delivery of oral PrEP and next-generation PrEP technology in family planning clinics in Kenya and in other resource-limited settings around the world.
The research team includes co-investigators John Kinuthia, Kristin Beima-Sofie, Bryan Weiner, Deborah Donnell, Jared Baeten and Ruanne Barnabas.