It's official! The second phase of SWEAT launched on Monday, October 16, 2006. We have the research site two times a week, Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings/early afternoon, at St. James Infirmary (www.stjamesinfirmary.org). The first week of operation was quite slow, and I think that was exactly how it was supposed to be. It gave all of us two extra times to administer the interview to each other, as well as an opportunity to do a mock run through in the lab.
The lab run through, which was Blake's fabulous idea, was super helpful since there is a lot to be done there. Every person that participates in the study is tested for Trichomonas (a rapid test that produces the result in 10 minutes), Oral/Rectal/Vaginal Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, Herpes Simplex Virus II, Syphilis, HIV (rapid or standard), and Hepatitis A, B, and C. The Trichomonas test is a self-collected vaginal swab, and the rectal and vaginal gonorrhea and chlamydia tests also involve a self-collected swab. So all together, 4 swabs are collected, 4 tubes of blood, and potentially one finger stick if the participant wants a rapid HIV test.
Whew! It's a lot of work.
Last night, I am pleased to report, we had our first participant!! Now we just need a few more of the initial seeds (those first people we have selected to do the interview) to come in and we will really be rolling. At this point of the phase, each participant receives three coupons she can give to her female sex worker friends. These women with the coupons can then call in to see if they are eligible or drop in during the first hour of operation. Already one of the coupon recipients from the interviewee last night has called in and she has an appointment for tomorrow's shift.
Thanks to all the hard work of Deb, Blake, Clara, Ginger, Sage, Heather, Reshma, Melanie, Jen, Abby, and myself, this phase has been meticulously thought out and tweaked. I can only hope that means that we will encounter very few hurdles and speed bumps along the way.
Oh, in case potential participants are reading this, please think about drinking lots of water starting 24 hours prior to your visit to make the blood collection easier.