UIC awarded $1.25 million for AIDS prevention program in Malawi

Under a $1.25 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research, the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing and the University of Malawi Kamuza College of Nursing will launch a five-year AIDS prevention project in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa. Ten percent of the nation's population is infected with HIV.

"Health workers in rural parts of Malawi will be trained and mobilized to become leaders in thwarting the AIDS pandemic," said Kathleen Norr, a sociologist in the department of maternal-child health nursing at UIC. Norr will design and implement the project in collaboration with Chrissie Kaponda and other nursing faculty at the University of Malawi.

In the first phase of the project, health workers at a state-run hospital in one of Malawi's 27 districts will receive a week of training. Based on a peer-education curriculum Norr developed for an earlier AIDS prevention project in Botswana, the training includes basic lessons on human sexuality, HIV transmission and the use of condoms, with role-playing exercises for negotiating safe-sex practices with partners.

In phase two, the hospital's health workers, using the same curriculum, will instruct nurses and medical officers in one of the district's rural clinics, as well as leaders in the cluster of rural villages the clinic serves.

The health workers will then organize community peer groups to teach villagers about AIDS prevention and to help parents talk with their children about safe-sex behaviors.

"The curriculum is designed to increase knowledge and awareness of AIDS and alter attitudes and behaviors that allow the disease to spread," said Norr. "Because of the stigma associated with AIDS, people are afraid to get tested and, consequently, don't get the care they so desperately need or take the precautions necessary to protect themselves and others from infection."

By educating hospital and clinic staff first, Norr belie

Contact: Sharon Butler
University of Illinois at Chicago

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