At a recent meeting of the STREAM Community Advisory Board (CAB), Georgia, held in Tbilisi at the National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, participants had an opportunity to discuss STREAM trial progress, patient enrolment and adherence to treatment, as well as community engagement activities for the coming year.
Following the CAB meeting, Georgia CAB coordinators visited STREAM participants currently receiving treatment at the center. During these visits, participants discussed the burden of tuberculosis (TB) and CAB members shared their own personal experiences of TB. CAB members not only play an important role in the STREAM trial by acting as a bridge between affected communities and researchers, but also by providing crucial psychosocial support to trial participants. David Jiqia, healthcare management student and STREAM CAB coordinator explained, “It is helpful for trial participants to have people to talk to, especially people who have experience with TB. We know exactly what to say to help them overcome their negative thoughts, because we have been there, and if we haven’t been there personally, we have family members who have.”
“I first became a TB activist when I was 16 and my father developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). For two years it was really hard. He hated the treatment and wanted to stop taking it many times, but with support of family and friends he successfully completed the treatment. The treatment for MDR-TB is changing and the STREAM trial offers patients the opportunity to achieve the desired result in a relatively short period of time which was unimaginable a few years ago,” explained David.
STREAM CAB Coordinator, Davit Alkhazashvili talked about his experience with TB, saying:
“I am a former TB patient. Nine years ago, I became ill with TB and from that moment my life changed radically. At that time, the only available treatment was the 24-month control regimen, which contained medicines that were difficult to tolerate. With the help of friends and relatives I was able to defeat TB, which was the beginning of my journey as a TB activist. Today I support TB affected people by giving them information about this disease and sharing my experience so that they know that they can overcome the disease. I help support them through the whole treatment process. There has been great progress in the world healthcare system and this is reflected in TB treatment. I wish success to STREAM and am grateful to all the people that are taking part in this process.”
During the visits, trial participants also shared their experience of the STREAM trial and discussed the side-effects they have encountered so far. While many STREAM participants report a positive experience of the trial, some still have difficulty completing their prescribed treatment. In order to ensure adherence rates remain high, the CAB members carry out home-vists, during which they listen to the concerns of participants, help to dispel myths about TB, and provide encouragement, drawing on their personal experiences of the disease.
To read more about the community engagement activities carried out by the STREAM Community Advisory Boards, click here.