By the end of this decade, 25 million children are expected to have lost one or both parents to AIDS. It is speculated that desperate conditions and the absence of adult protection leave orphaned children vulnerable to abuse and sexual exploitation, thereb y increasing their susceptibility to HIV infection and perpetuating a cycle of orphanhood, poverty and risk. But no published studies have been found that investigate HIV and STI risk among adolescents affected by AIDS, so, the applicant has designed and i nitiated a study to fill this gap in understanding. In the first year of the fellowship, she proposes to analyse sero-epidemiological and anthropological data she has collected from a high density suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe, to determine whether and throug h what mechanisms adolescents affected by AIDS may be susceptible to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. In the second year, she will identify strengths and gaps in community services for affected adolescents, and, in collaboration with communi ty members and stakeholders, use the findings to improve the design of interventions.With a thorough grounding in qualitative research methods and in programme implementation and evaluation, the fellowship would allow the applicant to broaden her research expertise to the disciplines of epidemiology and statistics, and gain experience in managing original research of her own design. She has chosen to pursue this training at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she would be supported by excellent supervision, mentorship and facilities, and opportunities for rigorous training in quantitative research methods. The Fellowship would provide the applicant her first opportunity to manage all aspects of public health research, from the diagnosis of a problem to the development of a response. This is the experience she needs to advance her career as an independent researcher based in Europe.
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