The SALON Project


The Hair SALON (Seeking Alternative Links to Outreach Networks) Project

Hair salons may offer a safe community space to engage young women and address barriers related to sexual and reproductive health (SRH). In settings such as Lesotho (Southern Africa), where young women face enormous SRH challenges, innovative and accessible spaces besides traditional health facility settings are urgently needed. HIV- and pregnancy-related complications are still the leading cause of death among young women in high HIV prevalence settings in sub-Saharan Africa. While the needs may be different in Switzerland, Black hair salons may likewise offer a unique venue to address key health issues.

However, no data exists from Lesotho nor Switzerland. We plan a cross-sectional survey – designed together with citizen scientists – in Lesotho and smaller survey in Switzerland to gather data on offering SRH services in hair salons. We will apply a citizen scientist, co-created project approach. Two lead citizen scientists (Black hair salon experts) are part of the research team, a citizen scientist working group will be regularly consulted, and the approximately 100 individual citizen scientists (hair salon stylists) will collect the main data in a decentralized manner.

We aim to assess acceptability and feasibility of promoting SRH services (e.g., family planning, HIV/STI prevention) in hair salons, explore the role of stylists, and compare the findings, including the citizen scientist approach itself, between the two settings. Follow-up plans include a multi-country cluster-randomized trial across different countries in sub-Saharan Africa.


Webpages and further information

Project Homepage

Funder: Participatory Science Academy Zurich


Contact person

Dr. Alain Amstutz

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