We try to reach out using special techniques
As scientists working in the field of STI we are often confronted with key populations such as sex workers, migrants, men who have sex with men and transgender persons. We try to reach out using special techniques such as snowball sampling or respondent driven sampling. Often, we fail in our attempts and refer to these groups as “hard to reach populations”. What we often do not realise is that we ourselves might be “hard to reach”.
The big challenge for future STI research will be to involve communities, practitioners and healthcare workers in our research. We need to get out of our ivory towers and abandon top down approaches. Whether it involves neat in vitrowork, randomised trials or mathematical models. To address the needs of those affected by STI and their medical caretakers, their involvement is required, not as a final step but from the design phase of our projects. This is an imperative to successfully implement results from a research environment to daily life.
Under the current uncertain circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, we aim to organise a hybrid conference with a large virtual component intertwined with the classical physical event. Moreover, we strive for community engagement and the involvement of local artists to bring their unique view to the international STI and HIV audience.