A protocol is an essential starting point for high quality HIV surveillance and all HIV surveillance surveys must be protocol-based. A protocol gives written evidence for the necessity and feasibility of a study and provides a detailed study plan. Writing the protocol forces the investigator to organize, clarify, and refine all the elements of the study, and this enhances the scientific rigor and the efficiency of the project. The protocol provides structure and organization to the study, detailing the numerous procedures required to meet a given study's objectives and goals, and the resources needed to conduct the study.
The main aim of the training course is to increase the skills of participants in writing-up protocols for various types of HIV surveillance surveys. It provides an intensive training in writing-up surveillance protocols and aims to increase practical knowledge in designing and planning surveillance activities. The training course is structured to address concrete steps and ten key parts of any protocol, starting from aims, objectives and methods, to data analysis and dissemination of survey results. The workshop consists of brief lectures, and the majority of time is spent on skill-building, interactive sessions and combines individual work and group work on writing-up protocols. As the focus is on gaining skills, most of the work will be done in groups, with the constant feedback from the facilitators. All individual and group work will be lead and supported by facilitators. Participants have a chance to present a protocol to the whole group on the last day of the workshop. The final product of the workshop will be solid protocols for HIV/STI surveillance surveys that participants can use in their own countries.
Participants are expected to decide before the arrival at the course what kind of protocol they would want to work on. That can be:
- a protocol for a population-based, bio-behavioural survey in a group at high risk for HIV (injecting drug users, sex workers, men who have sex with men)
- a protocol for an HIV clinic-based survey among STI or TB patients, or among pregnant women attending antenatal care services
- a generic protocol for either a population-based or a clinic-based survey that will be offered by facilitators
Importance of high-quality surveillance protocols
General framework and key components of a protocol:
- Introduction, background and objectives
- Pre-surveillance assessment
- Behavioural questionnaires and indicators
- Sample size
- Survey staff
- HIV and STI tests
- Data analysis and report writing
Linking a protocol for a surveillance survey with the need to obtain indicators for measuring the performance of HIV prevention and control programmes (evaluation indicators)
The workshops consists of brief lectures, and the majority of time is spent on skill-building, interactive sessions and combines individual work and group work on writing-up protocols. As the focus is on gaining skills, most of the work will be done in groups, with the constant feedback from the facilitators.
Participants are encouraged to work on the protocols that will be implemented in their own countries, or on a generic protocol that will be given by facilitators. The generic protocol will consist of development of a protocol for implementation of an HIV surveillance survey in the chosen high-risk groups.
Epidemiologists, social scientists, programme managers, NGO staff and other experts with interest in developing protocols for HIV/STI surveillance surveys.
The course takes place in five days.