Dr Obinna Ekwunife, a senior lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Management was awarded EDCTP Career Development Fellowship worth 148,000 Euros in June 2018. For this fellowship, Dr Ekwunife conducted a cluster-randomized trial titled ‘Adolescent Retention and Adherence Trial’ (ARA Trial). The trial aimed to improve the retention in care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy of adolescents living with HIV. The trial evaluated an incentive scheme to improve their retention in care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy. The scheme comprised a cash incentive conditioned on meeting the viral load target in combination with motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing helped to sustain the demand for care and adherence to therapy aiming for attitude change.
The cluster-randomised, controlled trial was conducted in selected HIV treatment hospitals in Anambra State, Nigeria. Based on sample size calculation, twelve HIV treatment hospitals from Anambra were selected and were randomised to either intervention (six) or control arm (six). The control clinics provide routine HIV care without the intervention. The trial successfully recruited 251 HIV adolescents (126 in the intervention and 125 in the control arm). The 24 months trial was in its twenty-first month as at September 2020. The research protocol was published in an international journal –Trials – and the ARA team has presented two abstracts in international conferences. Preliminary work was presented at the 13th INTEREST conference in Accra, Ghana and the trial protocol was presented at the 9th EDCTP Forum in Lisbon, Portugal.
As part of the grant requirement, a PhD student was trained and a training workshop on the design and implementation of a clinical trial will be held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University at the end of the trial. More details about the trial can be found at https://bit.ly/3mqnzRT.