JMIR research protocols 2017 05 026(5) e80 doi 10.2196/resprot.6833
Migration has an impact on the epidemiology of viral hepatitis B and C (HEP) and HIV in Germany; migrants from sub-Saharan Africa (MisSA) in Germany are disproportionally affected by HIV. In the last 10 years, a total of 10%-15% of all newly diagnosed HIV cases were among MisSA; 20%-30% of them acquired HIV in Germany. Prevalence of HEP among MisSA in Germany is unknown, but Western Africa, from where most MisSA in Germany originate, reports the highest prevalence of hepatitis B worldwide. There is limited information on knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and practices (KABP) regarding HIV, HEP, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as MisSA are not reached with surveys targeting the general population.
Our objective was to determine the HIV, HEP, and STI information and prevention needs of MisSA in Germany.
We conducted a multicenter, cross-sectional, KABP survey regarding HIV, HEP, and STIs among MisSA living in Germany using convenience sampling. The study design was developed as a community-based participatory health research (CBPHR) project; HIV/STI-prevention specialists, key persons from MisSA communities, and HIV/STI researchers were involved in all steps of the research process. Trained peer researchers recruited participants in six study cities. Potential modes of survey administration were interview or self-completion, and the questionnaire was available in English, French, and German. Questions on knowledge about HIV, HEP, and STIs were presented as true statements; participants were asked if they had known the information before. Focus groups with MisSA were conducted to interpret results. Data collection took place from October 2014 to November 2016.
Recruitment by peer researchers concluded with 3040 eligible participants. Data collection was completed in November 2016. We are currently analyzing the quantitative data and qualitative data from focus groups. We are conducting working group meetings to discuss the results in the respective study cities and to evaluate the application of participatory health research in epidemiological studies. First results are expected by the end of 2017.
Working with peer researchers to collect data allowed accessibility to a diverse sample of MisSA and, particularly, allowed us to reach vulnerable subgroups, such as MisSA without legal status. The ability to access hard-to-reach groups is one of the big advantages of CBPHR. The active inclusion of the persons under study in the design of the study resulted in higher acceptance and ownership of the research project in the target community; this ultimately lead to better quality of collected data. Furthermore, the participation of MisSA in the development of study design and data collection assures a better understanding of the interests, needs, and living conditions of this group.