Pre-Departure Goals

28 05 2010

Hi all! My name’s Erin Boland and I am a rising junior at Duke University majoring in public policy with a certificate in global health.  This summer I will do fieldwork and research in Togo with the partnership and support of Aides Medicales et Charitie, a clinic in Lomé.  My project will focus on gender and young Togolese adults’ awareness and knowledge of HIV/AIDS.  Togo’s a relatively small country (roughly the size of West Virginia) with a population around 6.4 million people (World Health Organization). The small nation still bears a great HIV/AIDS burden, however, as over 3.3% of the country is HIV positive (UNAIDS).

I will be conducting fieldwork in Lomé, the capitol of Togo.

HIV rates are disproportionately high in young women: Togolese women aged 18-24 are three times more likely to contract HIV than their male peers.  With my project assessing both young Togolese men and women’s beliefs and knowledge regarding AIDS, I hope to further understand this phenomena.  Participants will be recruited through Aides Médicales et Charitie (AMC), and will complete a questionnaire including items such as identification of methods of HIV transmission and prevention.  At the end of the summer, I will compare both gender groups’ submissions.

I’m really looking forward to conducting this project while concurrently volunteering daily in the clinic.  Interacting with clinic personnel and patients will enrich my experience.  In addition, conducting my project while also serving in the clinic should provide me with a more complete understanding of the needs of AMC and its patients.  This direct connection between my research and fieldwork site excites me.  My goals this summer include contributing daily to the clinic through my fieldwork, and eventually providing information with my project that can help improve the services offered by Aides Médicales et Charitie.

I arrive in Togo in two days, and expect to begin my work in the clinic towards the end of next week.  I can’t wait to share my first experiences soon!

– Erin Boland

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