On HIV/AIDS, February 10 2010

HIV: The Basics
Wendy Dobson-Belaire, Molecular Genetics

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the plagues of the 20th and 21st century. Despite many concerted efforts, no cure or vaccine yet exists. This talk will focus on the basics of the virus, how and what cells it infects, and discuss some of the current theories on how infection with this virus is believed to cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). A brief discussion on how co-infection with other sexually transmitted infections, especially gonorrhoea, can affect HIV pathogenesis will also be discussed.

Social Networks in Voluntary HIV Testing and AIDS Prevention
Clement Alexander Jumbe, OISE

Social networks are a set of linkages or relations between people. During illness, social networks are made up of people who are tied to you emotionally and can count on to support you when life is upsetting, when you have a difficult decision to make, or when you feel uncertain in the experience of a disease. Social networks have increasingly been interpreted as an important component of social capital. The social network theory posits that actors do not make decisions in isolation, but rather with others. Thus, social networks offer opportunities for individuals to exchange information, to evaluate information, to learn about social norms, and to influence attitudes and behaviors of one another. My thesis examines whether social networks play an important role in encouraging HIV testing and reducing the spread of the HIV epidemic.

Implications of AIDS in Bangladesh: The Case of a Brothel in Tangail District
Mohammad Azizur Rahman, Criminology

Many factors suggest that HIV may spread rapidly in the near future in Bangladesh. One estimate reveals that every day half a million people are embracing the risk of STD/HIV infection from commercial sex workers. The present study mainly looks at the implications of HIV/AIDS among brothel sex workers in Tangail District using survey research. The study finds that young, illiterate and unmarried girls and women are mostly involved in brothel prostitution because of economic hardship and because they are victimized by trafficking. There is a huge human rights violation in brothels. High inconsistency in condom use among brothel sex workers, and the refusal of clients to use condoms, cause the high risk of transmitting HIV/AIDS. Alternative sources of income can empower sex workers in deciding to avoid customers who do not want to use condoms, and thus consistent condom use can be promoted. Proper introduction and implementation of law is urgently required to protect sex workers from the violation of human rights, for the safety, security and dignity of their lives.

Evaluating Our Response to HIV/AIDS: What Do Our Program Deliverers Have to Say About It?
Nicole Greenspan, Health Policy, Management and Evaluation

The past 25 years have seen a variety of responses to HIV/AIDS. Community-based organizations have played a key role in the development and delivery of HIV prevention, care, treatment and support programs. However, our ability to summarize their efforts, and in particular, the effects of these efforts, is limited. My thesis work will examine how success of programs delivered at the community-based level is measured. The ideas that will be explored in this work are the diversity of stakeholders involved in this sector; the role that community-based organizations play in relation to the state; and the points of convergence and divergence in measures of success between these stakeholders and across disciplines such as program evaluation and behavioural science. By articulating points of convergence and divergence in measuring success I hope to contribute to knowledge that will help us better understand the struggles we face in maintaining an effective and compassionate response to HIV/AIDS.

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