$1M NIH Grant To Reduce HIV, Domestic Violence in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

August 7, 2013 - 5:14 PM

Dar Es Salaam

Crowd in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania awaits President Obama on his African tour in July. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A $1 million study to reduce gender-based violence and the risk of contracting the HIV virus among Tanzanian men is being funded by The National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The proposed study applies innovative, multilevel intervention methods to engage social networks of young men in Dar es Salaam,” the research abstract states.

Suzane Maman, the principal investigator of the study from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, received $521,284 this year for her research, entitled “A Multilevel Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk Among Networks of Men in Tanzania,” which focuses on the high HIV risk throughout social networks known as camps, defined as “semiformal organizations of youth, mostly men, who socialize regularly in a fixed location.”

The clinical trial page identifies camps as groups “that have elected leadership, paid membership fees, and physical space to meet. The equivalent of a camp in U.S. culture may be a cross between a club and a gang.”

Researchers “developed and piloted an intervention that combines microfinance with health promotion training for camp leaders” throughout 73 camps in Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, hoping “to change network norms.”

The study also aims to “to conduct a cluster randomized trial” to investigate whether men who receive the intervention in camps “have a lower incidence of sexually transmitted infections and report perpetrating less physical or sexual violence against female sexual partners.”

“Unequal power distribution in relationships has a devastating impact on women, leading to HIV prevalence among young women in some sub-Saharan African countries four to seven times higher than among young men the same age,” states the trial description.

“Gender power differentials have negative consequences for men as well, leading to increased risk of physical and mental health problems, substance use, and low uptake of health-related services.”

The abstract also notes “secondary outcomes” that include “uptake of HIV counseling and testing; a reduction in unprotected sexual intercourse; correct and consistent condom use; deferral of sexual debut; a reduction in the number of sexual partners and sexual concurrency.”

“Key mediators are hope, future orientation, collective efficacy, social support and social influence.”

When CNSNews attempted to contact the researcher for clarification of the specific intervention strategy, the significance of “key mediators,” the status of the project and its benefits for American taxpayers, a spokesperson for the Gillings School of Global Public Health of the University of North Carolina noted that answers will be unavailable until the researcher publishes her study results at an unknown future date.