We design and conduct a broad spectrum of health research. The team has pioneered research in the areas of HIV and STI, generating and using evidence to develop programmes and policies. Some of the ground-breaking work conducted by the PHDA, University of Manitoba, and its partners has had an impact on programme and policy in Kenya and other counties.
Some key contributions include:
- The role of “conventional” STIs in enhancing and facilitating HIV infection. This led to the development of the pioneering syndromic approach to STI management which resulted in a 25-40 percent decrease in STIs in the general population. This approach has been successfully disseminated to countries such as Uganda, Cambodia, Thailand, and India.
- Early identification and confirmation shows that there is indeed a heterosexually transmitted epidemic of HIV in Africa. This led to the understanding that focused prevention programmes for sex workers and their clients to reduce HIV transmission in these groups and the general community is critical. One of the significant findings was the identification of highly HIV-exposed female sex workers who are resistant to HIV infection and the subsequent understanding of acquired immunity to HIV.
- The protective effect of male circumcision for HIV acquisition in men through a randomized controlled trial conducted in the Nyanza region of Kenya. This led to the scale-up of the national Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision programme in Kenya and other parts of Africa, prioritizing traditionally non-circumcising counties and communities.
- The high risk and vulnerability of adolescent and young girls who are part of the social and sexual network at “hotspots” or places, where men congregate to find sexual partners. This has led to pilot projects with young sex workers in hotspots to reach a population that is normally left out of programming.
- Development of a global code for ethical research in partnership with various partners under the TRUST project funded by the European Union. The code has been accepted and followed by several global institutions and universities.
PHDA’s recent focus areas for research are:
Some Research Projects
Confronting Homophobia in Anal Health: Community-based Program Science and HPV among MSM in Nairobi, Kenya
This project aims to understand and confront homophobia and its role in the late presentation of HPV-related and other anal diseases among MSM in Nairobi.
As feminist scholar Currier (2010) reminds us, “African homophobia” is a political strategy that secures masculinist power embedded in postcolonial nationalisms, rooted in patriarchal politics, and reinforced through tribalistic discourses that narrowly constitute what counts as a ‘real man’.
Contextualizing the ethical implications of HIV molecular epidemiology: a critical knowledge exchange project
This project aims to establish a community-owned and regulated biobank. With this community-based biobank, the community (FSW and MSM leaders) will:
- Have primary access to knowledge about themselves, including phylogenetic information
- Help steer the course of biologically-oriented research that responds to their community’s health
needs and social, legal and political priorities.
Pro-active Pandemic Crisis Ethics and Integrity Framework (PREPARED)
The PREPARED project aims to develop an ethics and integrity framework to support rapid and effective research during global crises. It brings together 16 partner teams from three continents.
Tatu Pamoja Study
The research study aims to estimate the HIV incidence, retention, and assess the uptake and adherence to PrEP among at-risk Men who have sex with men (MSM) and Transgender people enrolled at the 3 partnering clinics in Kisumu, Nairobi, and Kilifi.
Maisha Fiti Study
The study aims to examine the associations between violence against women, mental health concerns, alcohol and drug use, biological changes to the immune system, and the risk of HIV infection.
TRANSFORM The Targeted Research Advancing Sexual Health for Men who have sex with Men
The study that started in 2017 and ended in 2018 aimed to assess if existing and emerging HIV prevention and care interventions were feasible, acceptable, and needed by Men who have sex with Men (MSM).
HIV Self-Testing Study
The study aims to evaluate the incremental benefit of the community-based implementation of HIV Self Testing (HIVST) strategies as a part of existing HIV and sexual health interventions with MSM in Kenya.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Screening and vaccination study for Men who have Sex with Men
This study aims to produce a solid evidence base to inform ongoing challenges in proactive responses to HPV-related health needs of MSM. MSM are at high risk for anal HPV-related infections and cancers, especially among those living with HIV.
A Cross-sectional Study of End-User Preferences for HIV Prevention Among MSM in Kenya
This study aims at understanding the knowledge and preferences of Kenyan Gay and Bi-sexual MSM (GBMSM) and transgender women regarding the use of oral PrEP.
Heart of Stigma Project
The heart of stigma project aims to assess stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key populations (KP) in Kenya. It is a part of IAS’s global “Getting to the Heart of Stigma” project.
Evaluation of KP Programme in Kenya
The goal of this study is to assess the effectiveness of the Key Population Programme funded by the Global Fund (in the last three years) in reducing the new HIV infections, AIDS related mortality and self-reported stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS among Key populations in Kenya by 2025.
- Odinga MM et al. HIV testing amid COVID-19: community efforts to reach men who have sex with men in three Kenyan counties [version 2; peer review: 2 approved] Gates Open Research 2020, 4:117. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7477340/pdf/gatesopenres-4-14403.pdf
- Emmanuel F et al. Mapping virtual platforms to estimate the population size of men who have sex with men (MSM) who use the internet to find sexual partners: implications to enhance HIV prevention among MSM in Kenya [version 2; peer review: 2 approved]. https://dqo52087pnd5x. cloudfront.net/manuscripts/14416/3c7c4d0e-83bc-4d90-a362-769e4668397c_13158_-_parinita_bhattacharjee_v2.pdf?doi=10.12688/
- Parinita Bhattacharjee et al. HIV prevalence, testing, and treatment among men who have sex with men through engagement in virtual sexual networks in Kenya: a cross-sectional bio-behavioral study. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2020, 23(S2):e25516. https://onlinelibrary. wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/jia2.25516
- Maisha Fiti study developed a film titled “Be your sister’s keeper” to share how women who sell sex in Nairobi are coming together to address the violence and stigma they face. The film was funded by the MRC for the 2019 Festival of Science and was selected for the 2019 Global Health Film Festival. The film can be accessed at https://youtu.be/KtSvK_4QIlk