Northwestern University's Program of African Studies has received a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support social science and community research geared toward the creation of more successful HIV prevention efforts in Nigeria.
Northwestern will work collaboratively with the University of Ibadan and
other Nigerian institutions as part of REACH ( the Research Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS ) . Their research efforts will complement vigorous treatment efforts by the Nigerian government and many international organizations to curb the course of the pandemic.
Nigeria is estimated to have the world's third largest HIV-infected
population after South Africa and India. Moreover, a recent national health survey in found that while eight of 10 Nigerian adults had heard of HIV and AIDS, their knowledge of HIV transmission was often superficial. REACH teams initially will conduct research in six diverse localities using a common, multidisciplinary approach. They will examine the environmental factors that influence decisions about sexual behavior. The researchers will devote special attention to resources within the targeted communities–social networks, traditional and religious leaders, cultural associations–that can be mobilized more effectively to encourage behavior change.
Northwestern University's Program of African Studies is one of the oldest African studies programs in the United States. It was created in 1948, the same year the University of Ibadan, one of Nigeria's premier universities, was founded.