Stellenbosch University Immunology Research Group
Field sites in the community
Participants for studies are recruited from primary health care clinics and hospitals in nearby regions of the Cape Town Metropole. Approval from the City of Cape Town Health Administration and/or Western Cape Provincial Department of Health allows our research nurses to visit specific facilities for each study, practising ethical recruitment and follow-up strategies.
With the help of our medical doctors, the study managers, a team of assistants and our drivers, all participant samples are collected and transported to the laboratory according to strict standard operating procedures. Our field workers strive towards excellence in research activities, providing health care support to study participants, and upholding good interpersonal relationships with government clinical staff.
We utilise shipping containers, modified into fully equipped and comfortable clinical research consultation units, stationed at some of our field sites as well as on campus, while we also have two modified caravans, converted into mobile research units which we use at sites where permanent space for our team is not available.
The bulk of current field work takes place in the Tygerberg sub-district of the City of Cape Town at primary health care clinics in Elsiesriver and Ravensmead. These areas carry a high TB burden with increasing HIV co-infection. In 2011, these clinics treated incident TB cases equivalent to ~798 per 100 000 per annum with HIV co-infection of ~16%.
The smaller neighbourhoods of Uitsig and Adriaanse, where we have two recruiting sites, are situated within the larger suburb of Elsiesriver, which houses a third recruiting site. This suburb has a mostly coloured (89%) population of about 90 500, of whom 15% stay in informal dwellings.
Ravensmead has a population of 18 000 predominantly coloured (94%) people and houses another one of our recruitment sites.
An additional field site with similar participant demographics was established in 2010 in Fisantekraal - a fast growing peri-urban and informal housing settlement in the Northern sub-district with a predominantly Black African (52%) and Coloured (47%) population of around 12 000, of whom up to 55% stay in informal housing.