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Lessons learnt from implementing an empirically informed recruitment approach for FEM-PrEP, a large HIV prevention clinical trial

Authors Parker C, Corneli A, Agot K, Odhiambo J, Asewe J, Ahmed K, Skhosana J, Ratlhagana M, Lanham M, Wong C, Deese J, Manongi R, Van Damme L

Received 22 May 2014

Accepted for publication 18 July 2014

Published 19 December 2014 Volume 2015:7 Pages 1—9


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Caleb Parker,1 Amy Corneli,1 Kawango Agot,2 Jacob Odhiambo,2 Jesse Asewe,2 Khatija Ahmed,3 Joseph Skhosana,3 Malebo Ratlhagana,3 Michele Lanham,1 Christina Wong,1 Jennifer Deese,1 Rachel Manongi,4 Lut Van Damme,1

On behalf of the FEM-PrEP recruitment group

1FHI 360, Global Health, Population and Nutrition, Durham, NC, USA; 2Impact Research and Development Organization, Kisumu, Kenya; 3Setshaba Research Centre, Soshanguve, Pretoria, South Africa; 4Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Moshi, Tanzania

Abstract: We implemented an empirically informed, geographically based recruitment approach for FEM-PrEP, a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention clinical trial of daily oral emtricitabine (FTC) and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) for HIV prevention. During the formative research phase, we conducted a modification of the Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) method and used those data and staff experiences to identify and prioritize for recruitment geographic areas where HIV incidence might be high. During the clinical trial, we implemented a routinely monitored and flexible recruitment plan in the geographical areas identified in the formative research. We describe three lessons learnt from implementing this approach: 1) the PLACE data were critical in identifying places presumed to be high risk; 2) staff experiences, in combination with PLACE data, were needed to inform a practical recruitment strategy; and 3) recruiting in establishments in priority areas identified by the PLACE data led to screening many HIV-positive women at the Bondo site (Kenya), placing additional burden on clinic staff. These lessons learnt highlight the critical importance of having a flexible and monitored recruitment strategy. Although we successfully recruited a study population at higher risk for HIV, FEM-PrEP was unable to determine the effectiveness of FTC/TDF for HIV prevention, due to low adherence to the study product among participants. We must shift the paradigm of recruitment for clinical trials of new products from focusing on identifying populations with high incidence to identifying populations at risk who are motivated and able to adhere to the study product regimen.

Keywords: recruitment, PrEP, PLACE, FEM-PrEP, HIV prevention clinical trial, women

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