Ethics & Engagement across the Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programmes
I am glad to share with you my first blog post with an update on my project entitled “Ethical issues in the use of molecular epidemiological techniques, a literature review and expert opinion analysis”.
This study explores the ethical issues associated with linking pathogen data to HIV infections, in particular, the use of phylogenetic analysis results to understand HIV transmission dynamics in African populations. The project has three main components: i) literature review; ii) interviews with scientists (geneticists, phylogeneticists, virologists, bioethicists) as well as interviews with members of the community within the Africa Center for Health and Population Studies Demographic Surveillance Area.
I have since submitted my full proposal for ethics review and approval and now awaiting feedback from the ethics committee. As most of you might be aware, the process can take a bit of time before approval is granted. In the meantime, I am working on the literature review and familiarising with the host programme where my study is nested. I have spent considerable time developing a simple and accurate description of phylogenetic analysis of HIV sequences, which I hope will be understood by a lay person in the community. The motivation was that when interviewing community members about their perceptions about these scientific techniques and their ethical implications, they need to appreciate what is being referred to. The next step will be to pre-test all the data collection instruments before commencing data collection.
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