Rollins School of Public Health Dean
Jim Curran (front) and Emory President
Bill Chace visit the Love Life Youth
Center in Soweto. Many of the children
in this South African township are HIV
he AIDS epidemic poses a huge threat to South Africa -- politically, economically, and socially. Only one-sixth the size of the United States, South Africa has five times as many people with HIV and far less capacity to deal with it. About 30% of pregnant women there are HIV positive and 4.7 million people may be infected.
This spring, an Emory delegation visited universities and medical centers in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. They met with public health officials, social workers, and business and governmental leaders. The delegation laid the groundwork for future research collaborations as well as faculty and student exchanges. And they witnessed firsthand the ongoing work of RSPH faculty Ronald Braithwaite, Priscilla Reddy, and Keith Klugman -- all deeply involved in combatting HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in South Africa.
In a three-year, $1 million effort, Braithwaite and Reddy are examining the health status and concerns of inmates soon to be released from four prisons in South Africa. The study will evaluate the effectiveness of HIV education programs conducted both by other inmates and by prison administrators. "As soon as inmates are released, one of the first things they do is have sex, and they often go back to alcohol or drugs," says Braithwaite. "While they are inmates, they really are a captive population, so we have a unique opportunity to provide them with information about HIV prevention and substance abuse. If we can get them information while they're incarcerated, then it may dissuade them from engaging in risky sexual behavior when they're released." (The United States can learn from South Africa as well. Prisons there offer inmates easy access to condoms. Only two US prison systems - Mississippi and Vermont - now do so.)
Klugman also serves on the faculty of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and directs the pneumococcal disease research unit of the South African Medical Research Council. He is studying pneumococcal vaccine among 40,000 children in Soweto, many of whom are HIV positive.
"Vaccine development, prevention science, and testing anti-retroviral drugs are probably the best ways that Emory can help in South Africa," says Rollins School of Public Health Dean Jim Curran. He also directs the Emory Center for AIDS Research, which supports HIV-related research across many disciplines.
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Web version by Jaime Henriquez.