Group uses comic books to explain TB vax trial

The South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) is taking a novel approach to explaining tuberculosis vaccine clinical trials to boost participation in countries not familiar with drug research. The group has published a 12-page booklet--available in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English--which tells the story of a woman's choice to enroll her infant in a TB trial. SATVI hopes to dispel myths, misunderstandings and fears about clinical trials, while at the same time advising participants of their rights as trial subjects.

"Many people in the community are not familiar with research," SATVI co-director Hassan Mahomed tells Modern Ghana. "Regarding clinical trials, there is some superstition, many myths exist about e.g. taking blood, as well as ideas that people are used as guinea pigs, bad things will happen, or other negative attitudes. The comic deals with these thoughts, it explains what happens in trials. This way, we hope to increase knowledge and understanding."

Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) is the only currently-available TB vaccine, and it has limitations. Conducting clinical trials is vital to creating a better version of the shot.

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