Hi everyone! I have been answering this question a lot lately, and I thought I should answer it again briefly before jumping into blogging about my research experiences.
I just arrived in Kenya to begin fieldwork for a research project on HIV prevention for youth. I will be working in Muhuru Bay, a rural village in the Nyanza Province. I am conducting this research as a postdoc at the Duke Global Health Institute and as part of WISER, the Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research. My mentors on this project are: Dr. Sherryl Broverman and Dr. Kathy Sikkema of Duke University, and Dr. Rose Odhiambo of Egerton University.
The goal of my research is to identify factors related to HIV risk among youth in Muhuru Bay. That is, I want to find out what contributes to HIV risk behavior - the individual, family, and community-level influences that may increase or decrease youths' involvement in risky sexual behavior. Therefore, my research team and I will be assessing factors such as: youth emotional well-being, communication between parents and youth, and the ways that community and church leaders are sending messages to youth about HIV. Over the next three months, we will be conducting surveys and qualitative interviews and focus groups to gather this information.
My hope is that this assessment will allow us to work with community members and leaders to develop an HIV prevention strategy that goes beyond providing youth with information - that involves multiple sectors of the community to support youth in reducing their risk for HIV.
As I blog about the research process, I welcome your thoughts and questions. I would love to hear from you and to keep an online discussion going.