Public Release: 

CONRAD to receive USAID funding for Project EMOTION

CONRAD

Arlington, VA - CONRAD is pleased to announce a new funding agreement, in collaboration with the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Agency for International Development, in support of a human centered design (HCD) strategy to increase demand, use and adherence of HIV prevention products for high risk women in Africa. The agreement will be implemented for a period of 5 years, starting in July 2015.

Project EMOTION will expand on preliminary data obtained in collaboration with the HCD research firm IDEO in a recently completed pilot study in South Africa called Project KAROO, which collected data to design and test improved microbicide dosage forms, packaging, branding, outreach, and concepts for marketing campaigns. Microbicides are products designed to prevent HIV infection, empowering women and girls to protect their own sexual and reproductive health.

HCD draws from the extensive socio-behavioral literature discussing how lifestyles, hygiene practices, sexual risk taking, activities preceding intercourse, and potential for covert use may affect the uptake of microbicides. In addition to focusing on individual behavior and social, peer and community influences, HCD studies extend to understanding how product design, branding, packaging and messaging influence the user's choices, confidence and long term engagement with the product. HCD studies have been extensively used in the technology, retail, communications, entertainment and health care fields. Project EMOTION will harness the latest advancements from these private sector approaches, and combine them with leading socio-behavioral techniques to accelerate product development in the HIV prevention field.

The EMOTION team will work with in-country partners in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya and collaborators IDEO, Abt Associates, RTI International and CAPRISA to identify individual, couple and community based drivers for and barriers to product use, and define and test product changes at the design, packaging, access and messaging levels in order to increase demand, use and adherence.

Participants will involve women who are at the highest risk of HIV infection, especially young unmarried women, including young adults who still live with their parents, those with a current or past history of intimate partner violence and those who exchange sex for money. Project EMOTION will develop new product attributes, packaging, dispensing systems, messaging, dosing preferences, and branding for two lead HIV prevention products, as well as at least two new alternative drug delivery systems. A communication campaign for one leading dosage form will also be designed and prototyped.

CONRAD Executive and Scientific Director Gustavo Doncel, M.D., Ph.D said, "The ultimate goal of Project EMOTION is to develop a user-centered strategy for creating market demand for microbicides/PrEP products that are desirable to women and are supported by the community they live in." Funding for Project EMOTION is made possible through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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About CONRAD

CONRAD was established in 1986 and is a Division of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, VA, where its laboratories and clinical research center are located. CONRAD is a leader in researching and developing new contraceptive options and products to prevent HIV and STIs, thanks to funding from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, among others.

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