Grant Callen

Nominated From: Indiana University

Research Site: Moi University

Research Area: HIV/AIDS and Behavioral/Social Sciences

Primary Mentor: Rachel Vreeman

Research Project

A Mixed-Methods Examination of Peer Influence Among Kenyan Adolescents Living with HIV

Through the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) and International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS – East Africa (IeDEA-EA), a cohort of 450 Perinatally-Infected Adolescents (10-20 years old) is being assembled from across Western Kenya. By collecting demographic, psychosocial, and healthcare status information for these individuals, we hope to evaluate and analyze the physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and psychosocial factors that might contribute to continued engagement in HIV care. My specific proposal will investigate the role that one’s close social network of friends and family has on PIA’s decisions to engage in or disengage from care and to explore what structural systems of support could best encourage long-term retention and positive health outcomes for PIA within this setting. These data will contribute to our ability to develop targeted interventions that encourage systems of social support for PIA that are in line with their specific psychosocial, developmental, and health needs.

Research Significance

HIV remains the leading cause of death amongst adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, adolescents are the only subpopulation of individuals living with HIV whose mortality rates continue to rise despite effective and available interventions. If this population is to be on track to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 agenda, we must better understand the needs and desires of adolescents when it comes to long-term HIV care and implement interventions based around those preferences.

Advice for Potential Candidates

Find your passion and pursue it. Your drive will enable you to express the importance of your research and long-term goals more effectively. It is palpable when someone is excited about their proposals, so be sure you are passionate about your pursuits.