Professor Continues Pediatric HIV Research in Kenya

A photo of Dr. Tiffany Chenneville in Kenya during her trip in Summer 2015. Photo courtesy of Chenneville and Springs of Hope Kenya.

Tiffany Chenneville in Kenya during her trip in Summer 2015. Photo courtesy of Chenneville and Springs of Hope Kenya.

Dr. Tiffany Chenneville, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, will spent three weeks in Africa starting July 15. She will present at the International AIDS Society conference in Durban and then travel to Kenya to complete a training of trainers workshop for youth-led teams as part of a larger community-based participatory research project regarding pediatric Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The research study, designated to address HIV-related stigma among youth with the disease in Kenya, is part of her long-term goal of establishing an HIV youth ambassador program, which would allow youths with HIV to travel to different parts of the world to conduct peer-led HIV initiatives.

Last summer, Chenneville spent more than two weeks in Kenya completing a psychosocial HIV needs assessment research with input from community members and stakeholders. The results revealed low levels of HIV education and high levels of HIV-related stigma, which serves as a significant barrier to HIV testing, treatment, and retention in care.

“HIV has become associated with groups that are marginalized in our society: Homosexuals, drug users, and sex workers,” said Chenneville, who has worked with children and adolescents in the U.S. who were born with HIV or contracted it through sex or drug use. “Stigma is a huge thing, even in this country.”

The 2015 trip was an opportunity for Chenneville to serve as a representative of the university and to begin developing a long-term collaboration for research with Springs of Hope Kenya, an orphanage located near Nakuru, Kenya. Her research has been supported by two $50,000 grants from an anonymous donor.

“It’s very rare to have someone fund an opportunity to grow a project like this,” she said. “It’s really exciting and I’m very grateful.”

View a video about Chenneville’s ongoing work in Kenya through the HIV SEERs (Stigma Reduction through Education, Empowerment, and Research) Project: