Tag Archive for HIV/AIDS

Herron exhibit provides intimate look at child-led households created by AIDS pandemic

photo hope seekers
“Hope Seekers: Survival of Southern African Child-Led Households in the Shadow of HIV”
February 5 – February 22, 2014
Marsh Gallery, Eskenazi Hall, 735 W. Michigan St.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland is creating an epidemic of its own — an exploding number of households in the South African kingdom that are headed by children, some as young as eight or nine.

Swaziland has the world’s highest rate of HIV/AIDS cases, with one in four people infected by the virus. The adult AIDS death rate results in a new orphan every 14 seconds – creating the phenomenon of child-led families.

Herron School of Art and Design on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus this month is hosting an exhibit of photographs exploring the lives of children in these families.

“It tells the stories of these children and really allows people to enter into an experience of gaining more of an intimate look at the child-led households in South Africa,” said Cynthia Prime, CEO of Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach (SOHO), the Indianapolis-based non-profit organization taking a leading role in efforts to help educate, nurture and feed the child-led families.

Special activities associated with the exhibit include:

  • A panel discussion, followed by a book signing and reception at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Basile Auditorium, Eskenazi Hall.
  • An unveiling of a life-size prototype of sustainable, safe and secure housing designed by IUPUI engineering and technology students for orphans in Swaziland, followed by presentations by students from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, 6 p.m., Feb. 18, Eskenazi Hall.

“This exhibition represents great collaboration across IUPUI’s many schools and programs. We are excited about the momentum we’ve built working in partnership with SOHO, as we increase IUPUI’s connections with Indianapolis, Swaziland, and the world,” said Jane Luzar, dean of the IUPUI Honors College.

In addition to photographs taken by Josef Kissinger, the exhibit includes artifacts created by Swaziland children.

The artifacts include a large toy vehicle, called a Kombi, built out of wire, soft drink cans, and bottle caps; and a floor mat made from garbage bags and candy wrappers. “These articles show that these children have promise and creativity,” Prime said. “They are called hope seekers because if they had options, they could change the world they live in.”

IUPUI receives NEH grant for study of origins of HIV/AIDS

Project Director William Schneider, right, and the head of Limbé Hospital blood bank in eastern Cameroon.

An international team of historians and anthropologists, including two Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professors, will spend the next three years hunting down the origins of HIV/AIDS.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $290,000, three-year grant to IUPUI for the project titled “An International Collaboration on the Political, Social, and Cultural History of the Emergence of HIV/AIDS.”

Under the leadership of IUPUI professor William H. Schneider, six humanities scholars assisted by three medical research consultants will study evidence supporting the most frequently offered explanations for the emergence of the global AIDS pandemic.

“It is a clear and a worthwhile goal: figuring out the origin of AIDS,” said Schneider, a historian of medicine who teaches in the history department and directs the medical humanities and health studies program, both part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “The emergence of new diseases, such as avian flu and swine flu, is one of the most important health concerns in recent decades.”

The new study could prove invaluable to those working in global health by providing information about how other new diseases emerge, the principal investigator said.

“It can offer a model for medical science and public health researchers who recognize that their studies need to account for the larger historical, political, economic, social and cultural relations and processes that shape disease emergence.”

Three prominent HIV/AIDS researchers — virologists Preston Marx and François Simon and epidemiologist Ernest Drucker — will serve as medical research consultants. The collaboration began 10 years ago and was recently assisted by the IUPUI Office of Vice Chancellor for Research, which provided $15,000 in seed money for the project.

Scientists widely agree that immune viruses have existed in the African simian population — chimps and monkeys — for tens of thousands of years. Some of these evolved and adapted into viruses that were devastating to the human population less than 100 years ago.

HIV/AIDS study collaborators and scientists during a planning workshop.

HIV/AIDS study collaborators and scientists during a planning workshop.

Through DNA sequencing, scientists have identified a dozen human immunodeficiency virus strains, two of which, HIV-1 and HIV-2, are responsible for the current AIDS pandemic among humans.

Because there were several adaptations, most scientists agree that the transfer was not a random incident, and they point to colonial rule of Africa as the circumstance permitting the adaptations.

The question is how and why?

Until now, explanations have focused on finding a “smoking gun,” i.e., the first case of human immunodeficiency virus. But that scholarship has lacked a critical humanities approach to the wide array of available field and archival resources.

Schneider’s team will address those shortcomings.

“This project is meant to place the medical, public health and biological dimensions of the origin of (HIV/AIDS) in its historical context in sub-Saharan Africa — bringing attention for the first time to the details of the specific social and cultural consequences of the introduction of (Western) medicine which was followed in short order by the appearance of the HIV epidemic,” Drucker said.

The research team will focus on the three most feasible explanations: changes in great ape and monkey hunting; social transformations during colonial rule including urbanization, prostitution and human mobility; and new medical interventions, specifically injection campaigns and blood transfusions, that facilitated transfer of viruses.

Schneider, an expert in the history of blood transfusions in Africa, along with Guillaume Lachenal of the University of Paris, will study the role of blood transfusions and vaccination campaigns, health interventions unheard of in Africa before colonial rule.

Ch.-Didier-Gondola_B

IUPUI professor Ch. Didier Gondola, chairman of the history department, is also a member of the research team.

IUPUI professor Ch. Didier Gondola, chairman of the history department, is also a member of the research team. He is an authority on the history of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the two neighboring African cities considered to be the place where the HIV-1 epidemic began, which is responsible for 85 percent of today’s AIDS cases. Gondola will investigate the impact of equatorial African urbanization, migration and gender on the emergence of AIDS.

The team will conduct field research and consult several archives and colonial and medical service records in Africa and Europe. Beginning with an IUPUI meeting in February 2014, the scholars will meet periodically to review the research, which will conclude with the publication of a book in 2016.

The HIV/AIDS project was one of four Indiana awards among the 173 NEH grants announced in July for a total of $33 million.