FAQs

FAQs for the General Public

What is the Virus Persistence Study (VPS)?

This study will test the body fluids of men and women to examine if fragments of the Ebola virus remain in these fluids after individuals recover from Ebola. These tests will only test for the existence of the virus fragments, not whether the fragments have live virus present. Additional testing on the fragments for live virus will be conducted at a later time, with the participants consent.

This is the second phase of this study. The first phase, the VPS Pilot, tested the semen of male Ebola survivors. We want to learn if this is also true for other body fluids, including those for women.

Who are the study participants?

120 male and 120 female Ebola survivors, 50 pregnant or lactating Ebola survivors and 100 males that who have been survivors for longer than one (1) year. Additionally, we hope to enroll Ebola survivors who are also people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Where is the study located?

The study sites are located at Military 34 Hospital in Western Area Urban, Freetown and Lungi Government Hospital in Lungi, Port Loko.

Why do we want to test semen?

We want to test semen because Ebola virus has been found to stay alive in semen for some months after a survivor has recovered from the disease. We need to test more men to better understand how long this virus can be found in semen.

Why do you want to test other body fluids (i.e. tears, sweat, saliva, urine, rectal fluid, breast milk, vaginal fluid and menstrual blood)?

For some of these fluids we do not yet know whether Ebola virus can continue to stay alive in these fluids for some months after a survivor has recovered from the disease. We need to test male and female survivors to better understand if, and for how long this virus can be found in these body fluids.

What are the benefits for survivors to volunteer for this research?

Survivors who sign-up for this research study will get their body fluids tested for Ebola, and they will receive:

  • Condoms (more than enough for 2 weeks, which is the length of time between study visits) and counselling;
  • 120,000 Le ($21 USD) per visit, covering transportation, meals and additional incidentals;
  • Optional pregnancy and HIV testing and counselling;
  • Linkage to care for survivor care for any identified health problems. These services will offered free of charge.
  • Nutritional support for pregnant or lactating women.

How quickly are test results received?

Survivors will receive their test results about 2 weeks later. At each visit, survivors are counselled on safe practices, including safe sex practices.

Breast feeding mothers will receive test results within 3 days from providing samples. They will return for counselling and additional testing. If breast milk tests positive they will receive appropriate nutritional counseling and support.

Which organizations are conducting/doing this study?

This study is being led by the Government of Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Defense, the World Health Organization, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, & Children’s Affairs, UNAIDS, and UNICEF.

FAQs for Recruitment

What is the Virus Persistence Study (VPS)?

This study will test the body fluids of men and women to examine if fragments of the Ebola virus remain in these fluids after individuals recover from Ebola. These tests will only test for the existence of the virus fragments, not whether the fragments have live virus present. Additional testing on the fragments for live virus will be conducted at a later time, with the participants consent.

This is the second phase of this study. The first phase, the VPS Pilot, tested the semen of male Ebola survivors. We want to learn if this is also true for other body fluids, including those for women.

Why do we want to test semen?

We want to test semen because Ebola virus has been found to stay alive in semen for some months after a survivor has recovered from the disease. We need to test more men to better understand how long this virus can be found in semen.

Why do you want to test other body fluids (i.e. tears, saliva, sweat, urine, rectal fluid, breast milk, vaginal fluid and menstrual blood)?

We want to test these body fluids because we do not yet know whether Ebola virus can continue to stay alive in these fluids for some months after a survivor has recovered from the disease. We need to test male and female survivors to better understand how long this virus can be found in these body fluids, in order to prevent others from becoming infected.

What are the benefits for me to volunteer for this research?

Survivors who sign up for this research study will get their body fluids tested for Ebola, and will receive counseling, condoms, and 120,000 Le per visit. They will also have the option to be tested for pregnancy and HIV. Additionally, participants will be referred to physicians and counselors for any additional needs that they may have. These services will be free for study participants.

How quickly are test results received?

Survivors will receive their test results about 2-4 weeks later. Before receiving their test results, survivors are counselled on safe practices, including safe sex practices.

Breast feeding mothers will receive test results within 3 days from providing samples. They will return for counselling and additional testing. If breast milk tests positive they will receive appropriate nutritional counseling and support.

What do study participants have to do?

Study participants would schedule an appointment to come to the study site, where they would answer a few questions about themselves, provide body fluid specimens for testing, and get counseling – all in one visit. Optional pregnancy and HIV tests will also be offered. Participants will have another visit 2 weeks later to receive their test results and provide additional samples. If the first two (2) tests are positive, more visits will occur until the body fluids no longer have any Ebola detected.

If Ebola is detected in the semen sample, can the participant infect their partner?

It is possible for a man who has Ebola in his semen to infect his partner through sex. That is why we recommend to abstain from sexual activity or to use condoms.

If Ebola is detected in semen, will the participant be able to have children?

It is important to know that Ebola can stay in semen for months, but we expect that the virus will go away after a time. After the virus is gone, men can have sex and father {more} children.

If Ebola in the semen sample, is there treatment to remove it?

There is no treatment that we know of to get rid of Ebola from a man’s semen. We do expect that it will go away on its own after a time.

If Ebola is detected in body fluids (other than semen), is there treatment to remove it?

There is no treatment that we know of to get rid of Ebola from an individual’s body fluids. We do expect that it will go away on its own after a time.

Who are the participants?

The study participants are survivors from various communities throughout Sierra Leone.

How many times will participants visit the study site?

All participants will have at least three visits scheduled 2 weeks apart. If the specimens collected are positive, then more visits will be scheduled until Ebola virus is no longer detected in body fluids.

Where is the study located?

The study sites are located at Military 34 Hospital in Western Area Urban, Freetown and Lungi Government Hospital in Lungi, Port Loko.

Which organizations are conducting/doing this study?

This study is being led by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Defense, the World Health Organization, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and China Centers for Disease Control, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, & Children’s Affairs, UNAIDS, and UNICEF.