Motswedi Anderson, a SANTHE Post-doctoral trainee based at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), in Gaborone, Botswana, is the brains behind this community and public engagement (CPE) project that was funded by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) .
Anderson’s research focuses on understanding the biology of occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) as she believes that through increased knowledge, better diagnostic and preventative strategies can be developed. The #HepBzero initiative aimed to gauge knowledge of and perspectives on HBV and HBV research in Botswana, share knowledge on HBV transmission, prevention, pathogenesis, treatment and research, and produce collaborative posters to be used in healthcare facilities.
Starting on the 10th of February 2020, Anderson engaged with approximately 60 students from the University of Botswana to work on an educational HBV poster campaign. She was assisted by staff from the University of Botswana who gave talks and tips to the students on poster design. The students were then given an opportunity to design their own posters in their respective groups. Pre-and-post-session questionnaires and evaluation forms were used to gauge the knowledge and perspectives of participants.
A key success of this CPE project was the amount and quality of information on HBV that was shared with the students. The results point to the need for further HBV awareness studies.
Through this unique experience, Anderson intends to use the knowledge she acquired to do more CPE work and to recruit interested participants from this project as facilitators for future CPE projects.