PROTECT: Inoculating and boosting against HIV vaccine misinformation among adolescent girls and young women in South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa

In this study, we test messages that work like an “information vaccine” to build resistance to misinformation that young women may hear about the HIV vaccine. Results from this study will help inform how to communicate about the forthcoming HIV vaccine in South Africa to ensure that vulnerable groups like adolescent girls and young women can benefit from the vaccine’s protection against HIV.

The study is a randomized controlled trial of inoculation messages with a behavioral economics “boost” with adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in South Africa, a population highly vulnerable to both HIV infection and to vaccine misinformation. Mirroring a vaccine trial, our behavioral trial will evaluate the efficacy, safety, durability, and generalized immunity effects of inoculation messages that are boosted with behavioral economics insights. We will also evaluate differential responses to the messages by important subgroups of AGYW. This proof–of-concept project has the potential to identify innovative communication strategies to build resistance to emerging and evolving HIV vaccine misinformation. Results from the study will advance the science of HIV vaccine demand creation and inoculation-theory based approaches to vaccine communication


HIV, adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), HIV vaccine , Message testing