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World AIDS Day: Scholars Keep Up Fight Against the Disease

December 8, 2008 - Not only is the disease and virus the focus or part of several courses, but faculty members and students regularly conduct field research in Washington and developing countries.

International Research

Jennifer Huang, associate professor of international health, and Frank Wong, research associate professor of international health, recently finished a three-year project in China.

“We look at behavioral risk factors among the migrant populations in China, specifically in the Shanghai region,” said Huang, whose department is within the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

The disease is spreading exponentially in some areas because of risky behaviors in an increasingly urban China.

“It has been a cultural taboo to mention HIV, but due to cultural changes, China is just starting to recognize its high-risk groups,” Huang said, adding that local Chinese governments have begun to realize they need increase outreach efforts.

The Clinical Side

Maryanne Lachat, associate professor of nursing, teaches a course called HIV/AIDS: Impact of an Epidemic.

“I help provide the clinical side of the disease,” she said. “We spend some time on the history of it because that’s something a lot of students aren’t aware of. We also spend time on virology, so the students can understand just how complex of a disease this is.”

While Lachat talks about HIV/AIDS globally, she also points out the toll of the disease and virus in Washington. With one in 20 adults infected with HIV, she says the city has the highest urban HIV rate in the United States.

“Georgetown is more mobilized to confront this disease than in the past, and that’s a good thing,” Lachat said. “We have to be aggressive and countries of the world must pull together to solve this.”

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