By Emily Shaw, Research Promotion Intern, International AIDS Society
Each year, the International AIDS Society (IAS) awards scientific prizes to recognize outstanding research in the field of HIV/AIDS, including the Women, Girls and HIV Investigator’s Prize. The US$2,000 prize is awarded to a researcher who has demonstrated excellence in research and/or practice that addresses women, girls and gender issues related to HIV, and it specifically aims to encourage such research in low- and middle-income countries. The award is sponsored by the IAS and UNAIDS with support from the International Centre for Research on Women and the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.
In conjunction with the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), this honour was awarded to Dr Peter Mudiope for the abstract, “Partnership of HIV infected mothers (peers), community lay women/men (Sengas/Kojas) and village health teams (VHTs) with prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programs, increased male partner support for HIV infected women in one rural health centre and three urban hospitals in Uganda, July 2009 - July 2011.” The two-year community intervention enacted within this project used a multi-faceted approach to increase male engagement in urban and rural PMTCT programs. Counselling, home visits and community sensitization was conducted by peers, community lay men, laywomen and village health teams. Additionally, antenatal educational sessions provided behavioural change messages and brochures targeted at male partners. Results showed that the intervention led to increased male partner support for HIV-infected women attending antenatal/postnatal clinics as well as increased awareness among women of their partners’ HIV status.
As the IAS and its partners gear up for AIDS 2014, we have reconnected with Dr. Mudiope to see how the Women, Girls and HIV Investigator’s Prize has affected his life and work over the past two years. Dr. Mudiope reflects, “The award to me was exceptionally welcome. I had spent five years in the field of child and maternal health research, but I had never been acknowledged at such a brilliant scene. The prize has opened new doors for me.” Among those doors was the opportunity to become the Head of HIV Prevention at the Uganda AIDS Commission, a government body with the goal of providing leadership, coordination, and management of an effective national response to HIV/AIDS.
Winning the Women, Girls and HIV Investigator’s Prize also granted Dr Mudiope access to activities especially organized for awardees, including media training with the multimedia broadcaster Voice of America (VOA). “Undoubtedly,” Dr. Mudiope states, “the media training I got from VOA has enabled me to confidently respond to HIV/AIDS issues on national TV & radio stations.”
Currently, Dr. Mudiope is working on studies to estimate the size of key populations with the purpose of improved profiling and programming for Uganda’s national HIV response. He is planning to attend AIDS 2014, where he hopes to present an abstract related to this project.
The Women, Girls and HIV Investigator’s Prize will be awarded once again at AIDS 2014 to another researcher whose outstanding work benefits females affected by HIV/AIDS. The awards ceremony will take place at the plenary session on Thursday 24 July, held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.