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1.
JMIR Research Protocols ; 11(12), 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2198162

ABSTRACT

Background: Although mental health challenges disproportionately affect people in humanitarian contexts, most refugee youth do not receive the mental health support needed. Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting nation in Africa, hosting over 1.58 million refugees in 2022, with more than 111,000 living in the city of Kampala. There is limited information about effective and feasible interventions to improve mental health outcomes and mental health literacy, and to reduce mental health stigma among urban refugee adolescents and youth in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Virtual reality (VR) is a promising approach to reduce stigma and improve mental health and coping, yet such interventions have not yet been tested in LMICs where most forcibly displaced people reside. Group Problem Management Plus (GPM+) is a scalable brief psychological transdiagnostic intervention for people experiencing a range of adversities, but has not been tested with adolescents and youth to date. Further, mobile health (mHealth) strategies have demonstrated promise in promoting mental health literacy. Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of two youth-tailored mental health interventions (VR alone and VR combined with GMP+) in comparison with the standard of care in improving mental health outcomes among refugee and displaced youth aged 16-24 years in Kampala, Uganda. Methods: A three-arm cluster randomized controlled trial will be implemented across five informal settlements grouped into three sites, based on proximity, and randomized in a 1:1:1 design. Approximately 330 adolescents (110 per cluster) are enrolled and will be followed for approximately 16 weeks. Data will be collected at three time points: baseline enrollment, 8 weeks following enrollment, and 16 weeks after enrollment. Primary (depression) and secondary outcomes (mental health literacy, attitudes toward mental help–seeking, adaptive coping, mental health stigma, mental well-being, level of functioning) will be evaluated. Results: The study will be conducted in accordance with CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) guidelines. The study has received ethical approval from the University of Toronto (#40965;May 12, 2021), Mildmay Uganda Research Ethics Committee (MUREC-2021-41;June 24, 2021), and Uganda National Council for Science & Technology (SS1021ES;January 1, 2022). A qualitative formative phase was conducted using focus groups and in-depth, semistructured key informant interviews to understand contextual factors influencing mental well-being among urban refugee and displaced youth. Qualitative findings will inform the VR intervention, SMS text check-in messages, and the adaptation of GPM+. Intervention development was conducted in collaboration with refugee youth peer navigators. The trial launched in June 2022 and the final follow-up survey will be conducted in November 2022. Conclusions: This study will contribute to the knowledge of youth-tailored mental health intervention strategies for urban refugee and displaced youth living in informal settlements in LMIC contexts. Findings will be shared in peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and with community dissemination. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05187689;https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05187689 International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/42342

2.
PLoS One ; 17(11): e0277438, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2119313

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the mental health and substance use challenges among many people who are Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex (2SLGBTQI+). We aimed to identify the important correlates and their effects on the predicted likelihood of wanting to seek help among 2SLGBTQI+ young adults for mental health or substance use concerns during the pandemic. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2020-2021 among 2SLGBTQI+ young adults aged 16-29 living in two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec). Among 1414 participants, 77% (n = 1089) wanted to seek help for their mental health or substance use concerns during the pandemic, out of these, 69.8% (n = 760) reported delay in accessing care. We built a random forest (RF) model to predict the status of wanting to seek help, which achieved moderately high performance with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.85. The top 10 correlates of wanting to seek help were worsening mental health, age, stigma and discrimination, and adverse childhood experiences. The interactions of adequate housing with certain sexual orientations, gender identities and mental health challenges were found to increase the likelihood of wanting to seek help. We built another RF model for predicting risk of delay in accessing care among participants who wanted to seek help (n = 1089). The model identified a similar set of top 10 correlates of delay in accessing care but lacked adequate performance (AUC 0.61). These findings can direct future research and targeted prevention measures to reduce health disparities for 2SLGBTQI+ young adults.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Sexual and Gender Minorities , Substance-Related Disorders , Female , Young Adult , Humans , Mental Health , Pandemics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Substance-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Machine Learning , Ontario
3.
Psychol Health Med ; : 1-26, 2022 Oct 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2070008

ABSTRACT

Growing evidence documents the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescents in East and Southern Africa. We present and explore the longitudinal health and development-related priorities and challenges of adolescent advisors in South Africa and Kenya, including prior to, and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings were co-generated with adolescent advisors in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa (n=15, ages 18-22 in 2019) and Kisumu, Kenya (n=16, ages 10-14 in 2020). Prior to COVID-19, adolescent advisors engaged in a participatory exercise to share and explore their health and development-related priorities and challenges in 2019 and 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, members of the same groups shared their experiences, challenges and coping strategies in semi-structured telephone interviews (Eastern Cape: n=14, aged 19-23; Kisumu n=12, aged 11-16) and group-based remote participatory social media activities (n=27 activities with n=12 advisors, Eastern Cape). We thematically analysed COVID-19 activities, considering them alongside pre-pandemic priorities and challenges. Many of the health and development-related priorities and challenges identified prior to COVID-19 remained issues of concern during COVID-19. These included education; victimization and violence; teenage pregnancy; substance use; household tension, conflict and inadequate family and caregiver support; health and medication concerns (South Africa) and water and food shortages (Kenya). Other issues such as financial insecurity, mental health, and crime were strong themes that emerged during COVID-19, which were not directly reported as priorities prior. Although almost all of adolescent advisors' most pressing pandemic-related challenges were also priorities for them prior to COVID-19, these issues were often discussed as new, and caused by the onset of COVID-19. While demonstrating how COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities, we also suggest that the pandemic may have brought about a new way for adolescents to make sense of, and articulate pre-existing challenges.

4.
Nat Med ; 28(7): 1359-1362, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1947399

ABSTRACT

The theory of syndemics has received increasing attention in clinical medicine since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the synergistic interactions of the disease with pre-existing political, structural, social and health conditions. In simple terms, syndemics are synergistically interacting epidemics that occur in a particular context with shared drivers. When policymakers ask why some communities have higher death rates from COVID-19 compared with other communities, those working from a syndemics framework argue that multiple factors synergistically work in tandem, and populations with the highest morbidity and mortality experience the greatest impact of these interactions. In this Perspective, we use specific case examples to illustrate these concepts. We discuss the emergence of syndemics, how epidemics interact, and what scientists, clinicians and policymakers can do with this information.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Syndemic , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics
5.
PLoS One ; 17(6): e0269730, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1933347

ABSTRACT

Sex workers may use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a means to mitigate occupational health and safety (OHS) risks by exchanging harm reduction techniques (e.g., screening) on blogs and social media. ICTs can also assist sex workers in creating online communities, where community members can act as each other's safety check-ins, an additional harm reduction technique. In Canada, there is a paucity of research around ICT usage by sex workers for managing occupational health and safety. The objective of this study was to qualitatively examine the needs and preferences of Canadian sex workers when using ICTs in the delivery of strategies for occupational health and safety. Using a theoretical framework derived from a Social Ecological Model perspective, semi-structured interviews were conducted via phone, with a mixed gender sample (N = 22) of sex workers, between April and July 2020. OHS risks were found to be related to structural determinants, client behaviours, and lack of experience and knowledge when newly entering sex work. Participant accounts revealed a socially cohesive online community; however, sex workers reported difficulties in finding these communities, particularly when entering sex work. Such barriers to supportive communities were attributed to the criminalized, hidden nature of sex work that resulted in the fragmentation of harm reduction techniques across several online platforms, such as blogs, YouTube videos, closed electronic chat groups, and open online sex worker supportive communities. Moreover, these platforms and/or their content could potentially disappear without warning, either due to the platform provider seeking to evade possible prosecution, or because new legislation was introduced banning such content. Recommendations for further research include the co-design with sex workers of an innovative, secure, easily accessible, sex worker-only ICT OHS tool, utilizing a web hosting service located in a country where sex work has been either legalized or decriminalized.


Subject(s)
Occupational Health , Sex Work , Sex Workers , Canada , Communication , Humans , Information Technology
6.
BMJ Open ; 11(11): e055530, 2021 11 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1528555

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: With over 82.4 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, there remains an urgent need to better describe culturally, contextually and age-tailored strategies for preventing COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts. Knowledge gaps are particularly pronounced for urban refugees who experience poverty, overcrowded living conditions and poor sanitation access that constrain the ability to practise COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing. With over 1.4 million refugees, Uganda is sub-Saharan Africa's largest refugee hosting nation. More than 90 000 of Uganda's refugees live in Kampala, most in informal settlements, and 27% are aged 15-24 years old. There is an urgent need for tailored COVID-19 responses with urban refugee adolescents and youth. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an 8-week interactive informational mobile health intervention on COVID-19 prevention practices among refugee and displaced youth aged 16-24 years in Kampala, Uganda. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a pre-test/post-test study nested within a larger cluster randomised trial. Approximately 385 youth participants will be enrolled and followed for 6 months. Data will be collected at three time points: before the intervention (time 1); immediately after the intervention (time 2) and at 16-week follow-up (time 3). The primary outcome (self-efficacy to practise COVID-19 prevention measures) and secondary outcomes (COVID-19 risk awareness, attitudes, norms and self-regulation practices; depression; sexual and reproductive health practices; food and water security; COVID-19 vaccine acceptability) will be evaluated using descriptive statistics and regression analyses. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has been approved by the University of Toronto Research Ethics Board, the Mildmay Uganda Research Ethics Committee, and the Uganda National Council for Science & Technology. The results will be published in peer-reviewed journals, and findings communicated through reports and conference presentations. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ClinicalTrials.gov Registry (NCT04631367).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Refugees , Telemedicine , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , SARS-CoV-2 , Uganda , Young Adult
7.
Ann Epidemiol ; 66: 37-43, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1509562

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: There is scant research examining urban refugee youth mental health outcomes, including potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine prevalence and ecosocial risk factors of depression in the periods before and after the COVID-19 pandemic declaration among urban refugee youth in Kampala, Uganda. METHODS: Data from a cohort of refugee youth (n = 367) aged 16-24 years were collected in periods before (February 2020) and after (December 2020) the WHO COVID-19 pandemic declaration. We developed crude and adjusted generalized estimating equation logistic regression models to examine demographic and ecosocial factors (food insecurity, social support, intimate partner violence) associated with depression, and include time-ecosocial interactions to examine if associations differed before and after the pandemic declaration. RESULTS: The prevalence of depression was high, but there was no significant difference before (27.5%), and after (28.9%) the pandemic declaration (P = .583). In adjusted models, food insecurity (aOR: 2.54; 95% CI: 1.21-5.33) and experiencing violence (aOR: 2.53; 95% CI: 1.07-5.96) were associated with increased depression, and social support was associated with decreased depression (aOR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.81-0.89). CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the urgent need for interventions to address chronic depression, food insecurity, and ongoing effects of violence exposure among urban refugee youth in Kampala.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Refugees , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , Depression/epidemiology , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Pandemics , Prevalence , Uganda/epidemiology , Young Adult
8.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(21)2021 10 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488563

ABSTRACT

Previous research has established that gender and sexual minority (2SLGBTQ+) youth experience worse mental health and substance use outcomes than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Research suggests that mental health and substance use concerns have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current study used self-reported online survey responses from 1404 Canadian 2SLGBTQ+ youth which included, but were not limited to, questions regarding previous mental health experiences, diagnoses, and substance use. Additional questions assessed whether participants had expressed a need for mental health and/or substance use resources since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020) and whether they had experienced barriers when accessing this care. Bivariate and multinomial logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine associations between variables and expressing a need for resources as well as experiencing barriers to accessing these resources. Bivariate analyses revealed multiple sociodemographic, mental health, and substance use variables significantly associated with both expressing a need for and experiencing barriers to care. Multinomial regression analysis revealed gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and level of educational attainment to be significantly correlated with both cases. This study supports growing research on the mental health-related harms that have been experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and could be used to inform tailored intervention plans for the 2SLGBTQ+ youth population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Substance-Related Disorders , Adolescent , Canada/epidemiology , Female , Gender Identity , Humans , Male , Mental Health , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance-Related Disorders/epidemiology
9.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0257693, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1430551

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: LGBTQ2S youth are overrepresented among youth experiencing homelessness and experience significantly higher rates of mental health issues compared to heterosexual and cisgender youth. COVID-19 related challenges for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness remain unknown. To address this gap, this study aimed to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on LGBTQ2S youth at risk of, and experiencing, homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada and surrounding areas. METHODS: Utilizing a mixed-methods convergent parallel design, LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness were recruited to participate in virtual surveys and in-depth one-on-one interviews. Surveys included standardized measures and were administered to measure mental health outcomes and collect information on demographic characteristics, and health service use. Survey data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and statistical tests for difference of proportions. Interviews were analyzed using an iterative thematic content approach. RESULTS: Sixty-one youth completed surveys and 20 youth participated in one-on-one interviews. Quantitative and qualitative data showed that youth have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways, including experiencing poor mental health, such as suicidality, depression, anxiety, and increased substance use, and lack of access to health and social support services. CONCLUSION: Our study highlights the need for LGBTQ2S inclusive and affirming health care and support services for precariously housed adolescents to address the pre-existing social and health issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Homeless Persons/statistics & numerical data , Sexual and Gender Minorities/statistics & numerical data , Adolescent , Female , Housing/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Male , Pandemics
10.
Glob Health Action ; 14(1): 1940763, 2021 01 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1360274

ABSTRACT

With over 1.4 million refugees, Uganda is Sub-Saharan Africa's largest refugee-hosting nation. Bidi Bidi, Uganda's largest refugee settlement, hosts over 230,000 residents. There is a dearth of evidence-based sexual violence prevention and post-rape clinical care interventions in low- and middle-income humanitarian contexts tailored for refugee youth. Graphic medicine refers to juxtaposing images and narratives, often through using comics, to convey health promotion messaging. Comics can offer youth-friendly, low-cost, scalable approaches for sexual violence prevention and care. Yet there is limited empirical evaluation of comic interventions for sexual violence prevention and post-rape clinical care. This paper details the study design used to develop and pilot test a participatory comic intervention focused on sexual violence prevention through increasing bystander practices, reducing sexual violence stigma, and increasing post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) knowledge with youth aged 16-24 and healthcare providers in Bidi Bidi. Participants took part in a single-session peer-facilitated workshop that explored social, sexual, and psychological dimensions of sexual violence, bystander interventions, and post-rape clinical care. In the workshop, participants completed a participatory comic book based on narratives from qualitative data conducted with refugee youth sexual violence survivors. This pilot study employed a one-group pre-test/post-test design to assess feasibility outcomes and preliminary evidence of the intervention's efficacy. Challenges included community lockdowns due to COVID-19 which resulted in study implementation delays, political instability, and attrition of participants during follow-up surveys. Lessons learned included the important role of youth facilitation in youth-centred interventions and the promise of participatory comics for youth and healthcare provider engagement for developing solutions and reducing stigma regarding SGBV. The Ngutulu Kagwero (Agents of change) project produced a contextually and age-tailored comic intervention that can be implemented in future fully powered randomized controlled trials to determine effectiveness in advancing sexual violence prevention and care with youth in humanitarian contexts.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Rape , Refugees , Sex Offenses , Adolescent , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Pilot Projects , Rape/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , Uganda , Young Adult
11.
Front Sociol ; 6: 650729, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1295733

ABSTRACT

Epidemics and pandemics, like COVID-19, are not gender neutral. Much of the current work on gender, sex, and COVID-19, however, has seemed implicitly or explicitly to be attempting to demonstrate that either men or women have been hardest hit, treating differences between women and men as though it is not important to understand how each group is affected by the virus. This approach often leaves out the effect on gender and sexual minorities entirely. Believing that a more nuanced approach is needed now and for the future, we brought together a group of gender experts to answer the question: how are people of different genders impacted by COVID-19 and why? Individuals working in women's, men's, and LGBTQ health and wellbeing wrote sections to lay out the different ways that women, men, and gender and sexual minorities are affected by COVID-19. We demonstrate that there is not one group "most affected," but that many groups are affected, and we need to move beyond a zero-sum game and engage in ways to mutually identify and support marginalized groups.

12.
Glob Public Health ; 16(6): 947-963, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1145128

ABSTRACT

Consequences of COVID-19 pandemic responses have included exacerbated poverty, food insecurity and state and domestic violence. Such effects may be particularly pronounced amongst adolescents and young people living in contexts of precarity and constraint, including in South Africa. However, there are evidence gaps on the lived experiences of this group. We conducted telephonic semi-structured interviews with adolescents and young people in two South African provinces (n = 12, ages 18-25) in April 2020 to explore and document their experiences, challenges and coping strategies during strict COVID-19 lockdown. Participants described indirect effects of COVID-19 including food insecurity, lost livelihoods and changes to social service provisions such as municipal electricity services and sanitation. Psychosocial stressors related to uncertainty over education and work futures were also discussed. The aforementioned challenges were particularly present with young parents, 'working poor' participants, and those with pre-existing mental health challenges. Participants demonstrated excellent COVID-19 transmission and prevention knowledge, showing that they had received and correctly interpreted public health messaging. Despite this, many simultaneously held non-scientific COVID-19 beliefs. Engaging a socio ecological framework, findings demonstrate how the indirect effects of COVID-19 may exacerbate underlying multi-layered vulnerabilities for adolescents and young people living in contexts of precarity and constraint.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Life Change Events , Social Isolation/psychology , Adolescent , Adult , Anxiety , Depression , Female , Frustration , Humans , Interviews as Topic , Male , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa , Young Adult
13.
Confl Health ; 15(1): 3, 2021 Jan 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1015890

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Contextual factors including poverty and inequitable gender norms harm refugee adolescent and youths' wellbeing. Our study focused on Bidi Bidi refugee settlement that hosts more than 230,000 of Uganda's 1.4 million refugees. We explored contextual factors associated with wellbeing among refugee adolescents and youth aged 16-24 in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement. METHODS: We conducted 6 focus groups (n = 3: women, n = 3: men) and 10 individual interviews with young refugees aged 16-24 living in Bidi Bidi. We used physical distancing practices in a private outdoor space. Focus groups and individual interviews explored socio-environmental factors associated with refugee youth wellbeing. Focus groups were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded by two investigators using thematic analysis. Analysis was informed by a social contextual theoretical approach that considers the interplay between material (resource access), symbolic (cultural norms and values), and relational (social relationships) contextual factors that can enable or constrain health promotion. RESULTS: Participants included 58 youth (29 men; 29 women), mean age was 20.9 (range 16-24). Most participants (82.8%, n = 48) were from South Sudan and the remaining from the Democratic Republic of Congo (17.2% [n = 10]). Participant narratives revealed the complex interrelationships between material, symbolic and relational contexts that shaped wellbeing. Resource constraints of poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment (material contexts) produced stress and increased sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) targeting adolescent girls and women. These economic insecurities exacerbated inequitable gender norms (symbolic contexts) to increase early marriage and transactional sex (relational context) among adolescent girls and young women. Gendered tasks such as collecting water and firewood also increased SGBV exposure among girls and young women, and this was exacerbated by deforestation. Participants reported negative community impacts (relational context) of COVID-19 that were associated with fear and panic, alongside increased social isolation due to business, school and church closures. CONCLUSIONS: Resource scarcity produced pervasive stressors among refugee adolescents and youth. Findings signal the importance of gender transformative approaches to SGBV prevention that integrate attention to resource scarcity. These may be particularly relevant in the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings signal the importance of developing health enabling social contexts with and for refugee adolescents and youth.

14.
Glob Public Health ; 15(12): 1917-1923, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-795165

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 'lockdown' policies may have unintended consequences for individuals, households and country economies. Hence lockdown may be unsustainable despite the risk of a resurgence of new COVID-19 infections. The repeal and alteration of lockdown policies mark a symbolic transfer of responsibility for epidemic control from state to individual. This has the potential to catalyse fear, blame and judgement within and between populations. We draw on experience from the HIV pandemic to show that this will worsen during later phases of the pandemic if COVID-19 stigma increases, as we fear it could. We suggest policy recommendations for 'lockdown lifting' to limit COVID-19 stigma. We suggest three policy priorities to minimise potential increases in COVID-19 stigma: limit fear by strengthening risk communication, engage communities to reduce the emergence of blaming, and emphasise social justice to reduce judgement. 'Lockdown' policies cannot continue uninterrupted. However, lifting lockdown without unintended consequences may prove harder than establishing it. This period has the potential to see the emergence of fear, blame and judgement, intersecting with existing inequalities, as governments seek to share responsibility for preventing further Sars-Cov-2 transmission. As we have learned from HIV, it is critical that a wave of COVID-19 stigma is prevented from flourishing.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Health Policy , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Social Control, Formal/methods , Social Stigma , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Humans , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Isolation
15.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 23(5): e25504, 2020 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-258779
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