Field Placement: Population Council,
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Preceptor: Dr. Karusa Kiragu
Student Name: Jennifer Brody
The Population Council is an international, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that conducts biomedical, social science, and public health research in reproductive health. The Council has 17 offices around the world and has several large-scale international reproductive health-focused programs. My 10-week internship was located in the Nairobi, Kenya office with the Horizons Program. The Horizons program is a team of US and internationally-based organizations that conduct applied research in the area of HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Recently alcohol use has been identified as an important risk factor for the spread of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The issue, however, has been understudied in the region. In order to address the problem, the Horizons Program at the Nairobi, Kenya office received funding to conduct a 3-year study on the effects of alcohol and other substance use on utilization of voluntary counseling and testing for HIV (VCT) as well as on adherence to anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy for HIV in Kenya. Under the supervision of my preceptor Dr. Karusa Kiragu, I participated in the formative research activities for this study. My objectives on this project included 1. Conducting a comprehensive literature review 2. Drafting and pre-testing a focus group discussion guide for use with drug and alcohol rehabilitation clients on issues related to substance use and VCT 3. Drafting a focus group discussion guide on the effect of substance use on ARV adherence for use with individuals attending an ARV treatment center 4. Drafting questionnaires about the effects of substance use on VCT utilization and ARV adherence. 5. Identifying alcohol and substance use screening tools for use by VCT counselors and ARV treatment providers to guide appropriate counseling and referral practices. I also worked on a second Horizons study that explored Kenyan healthcare workers’ HIV/AIDS-related perceptions, attitudes, and prevention practices. My objective on this project was to carry out qualitative data analysis on 22 focus groups conducted with health care workers from 9 districts in Kenya.
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