Training Course for HIV Researchers in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Botswana 2013

Three weeks of intensive training about randomised controlled trails for HIV researchers in SADC countries took place in Gaborone, Botswana, from 28 January to 15 February 2013. The 21 participants, nominated by National AIDS Authorities and universities, came from Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

A lecture session during the training course.

The Hon Mokgweetsi Masisi, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, gave an opening address, stressing the need for such training in the region and urging participants to make the most of the opportunity to gain key skills. During the course, the SADC HIV Unit gave a presentation on their work and Mpho Mmelesi of the Botswana NACA reviewed the present state of the HIV epidemic in Botswana.

The training focused on randomised controlled trials for HIV prevention, covering the underlying epidemiological and statistical concepts and methods, and including practical hands-on sessions as well as theoretical underpinning. Participants learned about counterfactual evidence, epidemiological study design, dealing with biases and confounding, statistical significance testing relevant to RCTs, techniques for intervention research, relevant qualitative methods, systematic review, data gathering considerations, and ethical issues relevant to RCTs. Hands-on practical sessions using CIETmap software helped to build skills and consolidate knowledge from lecture sessions.

Course participants work on exercises.

During the course, participants developed research proposals for their chosen topics within HIV prevention. A group from each country, supported by a faculty member, applied the knowledge and skills gained during the training towards building up research concepts into fundable research proposals. Most groups opted to develop proposals for RCTs to test behavioural and structural interventions in their own countries, applying their in-depth knowledge about the HIV epidemic and cultural norms in their countries. They will further develop their funding proposals after the course.


Participants reported the course was relevant and useful for their work.  
“The content was exactly what we needed as a country.”
“It has broadened my understanding of research and epidemiology.”
“It was useful to work on the research proposal during the course, as one could apply what was learned.”

This course was part of the second phase of CIET’s African Development of AIDS Prevention Trial capacity project (ADAPT), funded by the HIV Prevention Trials Capacity Building Grants programme of the Global Health Research Initiative in Canada.