It is hard to believe I have called Kisumu home for almost a year, with time cut short by the elections set for early August. Our team is busy, skillfully orchestrating multiple studies concurrently. The stigma education study, looking at the impact of a stigma-responsive educational video on cervical cancer screening behavior, is in full swing. The six health facility sites are offering research-supported HPV self-testing as part of their cervical cancer screening program, led by community healthcare volunteers (CHVs). Our three intervention sites are also showing the HPV stigma-responsive education video. The team then visits each site once a week to ask women to participate in a validated HPV/cervical cancer stigma measurement tool. Jeniffer, our study clinician, is leading the project with grace, balancing the day-to-day activities with each facility. Getting positive feedback from the CHVs and women of the community about a cervical cancer screening technique that avoids a speculum helps to keep us motivated. Some of the sites are about an hour away from the city, offering a glimpse of rural life and Luo homesteads.
This summer, Duke undergraduate and graduate students joined the team, sharing various leadership roles in projects. Working together with the SRT undergraduate students to build the project and then seeing it unfold has been energizing! As always, delays are inevitable in global research and have taught us valuable lessons of patience. Each day brings new challenges and small victories!
Recently the larger team ran a community campaign that screened over 400 women for cervical cancer using the HPV self-testing and offered hundreds of school-aged girls the HPV vaccine. Women who screened positive for HPV were then treated using thermocoagulation. Planning and coordinating the event took countless hours, and the team did a great job!
During freetime, I have been enjoying exploring Kenya, including hiking, camping and visiting the national parks. I have hiked Mt Elgon, Mt Kenya and recently traveled to Tanzania and successfully submitted Mt Kilimanjaro! The food is delicious, especially living by Lake Victoria with good tilapia paired with ugali.