HIV/AIDS Expert Speaks to Students on Campus

January 27, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Medical anthropologist Anat Rosenthal described her research on HIV/AIDS and its impact in Malawi. (PHOTO BY HAYLEY BOSCH / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

By Hayley Bosch

The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, the Department of Anthropology and the Embrey Human Rights Program welcomed medical anthropologist Dr. Anat Rosenthal to SMU Wednesday afternoon to share her knowledge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Dr. Rosenthal began working on issues of HIV/AIDS in 2002 in Israel. More recently, she moved her study to Malawi—a country in Sub-Saharan Africa that struggles with HIV. She broadened her research to include the impact of HIV/AIDS on rural Malawian communities, especially children.

Dr. Sarah Willen, a professor in the anthropology department, introduced Rosenthal.

“She earned her Ph.D. from Hebrew University [in Jerusalem] in 2009 for a study titled ‘Raising Our Children: Community Strategies for Coping with Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Rural Malawi,” Willen said.

Rosenthal’s presentation was accompanied by a slideshow loaded with information. One slide presented current research questions that she encountered in her study of HIV and its impact on children’s lives. From a demographic standpoint, one may ask how many children were orphaned by HIV/AIDS and who is raising them. The audience weighed in on the difference between health standards in the United States and Malawi.

The health status of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS—that is to say at least one of their parents have died—comparing with other children was brought up from a health standpoint.

“[According to] the UN, more than 11 million children under the age of 15 in Sub-Saharan Africa has lost one or more parent to HIV/AIDS,” Rosenthal explained. According to Rosenthal, this number was projected to almost double by 2010. Over 10 percent of the population in Malawi is HIV positive.

Dr. Rosenthal continued on to explain her work in Malawi: 12 months of fieldwork, participant observation and 45 semi-structured/unstructured interviews. She worked in rural communities with nongovernmental organizations, orphanages and government agencies.

Much of Rosenthal’s presentation concentrated on her work in one village where she worked with the Community Office on different kinds of projects, such as family strengthening projects, care projects and communal infrastructure projects. According to Rosenthal, these projects are not directed at children even though their mission is to support children in the community. The projects are actually aimed at the families that take care of orphans.

“The Community Office is not [building latrines] only for granny and her orphan kids, right? They do it for everyone,” Rosenthal said.

The relationship between a community and its people was addressed with the idea of community as a place. Rosenthal explained that the Community Office projects take care of the people in a way.

SMU student, Lisa Marshall weighed in on her reasoning for this.

“They can be proud of it. It’s something for them to care for,” Marshall said.

Rosenthal finished her lecture with a short story. She recalled a time she went to a young woman’s home on a house call with the nurse from the Community Office. The young lady was on the floor dying, alone except for a volunteer from the Community Office, Rosenthal and the nurse.

Dr. Rosenthal will be speaking again in Dr. Willen’s Health, Healing and Ethics class on Thursday morning.

VIDEO: Fight Back Against HIV

November 19, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Aileen Garcia

Untitled from on Vimeo.

Today an estimated 33.4 million people are living with HIV or AIDS. SMU’s dean of education, David Chard, has seen his fair share of people suffering from the disease during the many years he worked in Africa.

“There were very few people in the country who had ever heard of HIV and AIDS and now most of the population between the ages of 18 and 50 are dead,” Chard said.

One organization is trying to change those statistics. It’s looking for men between the ages of 18 to 50 who have practiced unprotected sex with other men within the last six months.

“They are trying to identify a population or sample of participants who are willing to admit that they are high risk candidates for this kind of a study, which is kind of a tabo thing to do,” Chard said.

HIV is a lentivirus that causes the immune system to fail and could lead to AIDS.

“The idea of the vaccine is to see if perhaps by modulating the immune system they might be able to change someone that may have dropped very quickly to aids into someone that may not drop at all,” said Dr. Mamta Jain.

Participants in the HIV vaccine trails network study are at no risk of contracting HIV.

“The vaccine is synthetic made so they cannot get hiv from the vaccine, but from participants risk factors,” Chris Miklos said.

Studies have shown ways of reducing the risk of contracting HIV, and although the study is not yet complete they’ve learn more about the disease.

The study is helping researchers find a way to strengthen the immune system and prevent aids. For more information on how to be a participant click here.

Big D Blog: Dallas Cyclists Fight AIDS

September 30, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Marissa Belske

If there is one thing that I am truly passionate about it is HIV/AIDS prevention. An article I read last week from The Dallas Morning News shed light on how severe this issue has become within the young Dallas community. Officials report a 30 percent increase in HIV infections within the past five years among 13- to 24-year-olds in Dallas County.

The ones hit the hardest by the virus are members of the LGBT community. The Dallas Voice shows a recent study found that one in five sexually active gay and bisexual men are infected with the virus. What makes me happy is that Dallas is doing something to fight against this serious problem.

Last weekend Dallas showed support to those affected with HIV/AIDS and pedaled their way across the Metroplex to show AIDS whose boss. The 10th annual Lone Star Ride Fighting Aids is a two-day, 150-mile cycling adventure throughout the DFW area.

The Dallas Voice was on site to take pictures of the event. The Lone Star Ride has distributed more than $1.8 million to the AIDS Services of Dallas, Resource Center of Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center of Fort Worth since 2001. The money raised is to provide services in support of locals who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. Be sure to expect the event next year in full force.