•  ()
  •  ()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story

Can Nigeria End Its AIDS Pandemic?

Events highlight Northwestern research initiative taking aim at global HIV crisis

May 20, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- An estimated 3 million people live with the AIDS virus in Nigeria, making it second only to South Africa as home to the most HIV-infected persons in the world. Two free, public events at Northwestern University -- on Monday, May 24, and Tuesday, May 25 -- will discuss the findings of a Northwestern research initiative that addresses Nigeria's HIV crisis and steps Nigeria should take to reverse its failing war against AIDS. 

At the May 24 forum, titled "Can Nigeria End Its AIDS Pandemic? The Design of Knowledge-Based Prevention Strategies," Northwestern Professor Richard Joseph will join a prominent public health epidemiologist and four Nigerian research colleagues to discuss the pioneering research they have conducted on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria as part of the Northwestern initiative known as REACH. The event runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Hardin Hall, 633 Clark Street, Evanston. 

The May 25 event, titled "American-Nigerian Research Collaboration: Lessons Learned," takes place from noon to 2 p.m. at the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, 1902 Sheridan Road, Evanston. It will focus on how REACH -- an acronym for the University's Research Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS -- overcame obstacles to generate rigorous data on sensitive issues.

Although it possesses immense oil wealth, the standard of life in Nigeria is no better than that of most other African countries, according to Joseph, principal investigator of the $3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that created REACH.

"Two-thirds of Nigeria's almost 150 million citizens live on less than $2 a day and have a life expectancy of 47 years," said Joseph, John Evans Professor of Political Science in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "A woman's risk of dying while giving birth in Nigeria is over twice as high as in nearby Ghana."

Overseen by the Buffett Center, REACH brings together social scientists and researchers from Northwestern University, Nigeria's University of Ibadan, and other institutions to study Nigerian attitudes and behaviors in an effort to design more effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. 

Since 2006, joint research teams have produced vital data on the social, cultural and contextual factors that increase vulnerability to HIV infection and hinder the use of counseling and testing facilities. In Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, five persons are newly infected for every two put on antiretroviral drugs (much of it paid for with U.S. government funds).

"As the global AIDS campaign falters, REACH data and findings point the way to more effective strategies urgently sought by Nigerian and international agencies," added Joseph.

For further information on REACH, visit http://www.bcics.northwestern.edu/projects/reach/. For more information about the May 24 and 25 events, visit the Buffet Center at  www.bcics.northwestern.edu or call (847) 467-2002.

Topics: University News