I was drawn to ICAP due to its focus on HIV, particularly in the context of our changing climate. My passion is looking at the intersection of forced displacement, migrant health, and natural disasters, and this practicum opportunity allowed me to further explore these areas.
Under the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Andrea Low, I examined the relationship between various forms of migration and engagement in the HIV continuum of care for individuals living in Zimbabwe. This work included investigating how migration types – such as having an internal, external, circular, or climate-driven migrant status – influenced the access and utilization of HIV care. This project utilized data from the Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) survey, part of the Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) project, to explore relationships between migration and HIV awareness, antiretroviral treatment use, and viral load suppression status.
As I consider pursuing a career in academia, a major highlight of this practicum was the opportunity to better understand the process of designing a sound research proposal. This opportunity involved identifying gaps in the current literature surrounding HIV and migrant health, crafting a rationale for my research question, and conceptualizing and conducting the data analysis. For me, this process illustrated the level of detail required to produce novel research, particularly in the context of emerging public health threats as we consider the impacts of climate change.
In addition to gaining a better understanding of the research process, it was extremely rewarding to apply the skills that I had cultivated through my coursework to this pressing public health question. While working with a country-wide data set was a novel experience for me, I was able to use my skills in data analysis to implement a weighted survey design, calculate the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection, conduct linear and logistic regression analyses, and conceptualize and create variables that captured various forms of migration. Not only did this experience strengthen my data analysis skills, but it demonstrated the value of computer-based expertise to tackle global health issues.
My practicum underscored the complexity and diversity of health care needs that different migrant populations experience in the context of HIV. Although remote, this project enabled me to gain invaluable experience working in the global health sphere. The focus on HIV solidified my desire to further explore infectious diseases on a global scale, with specific attention to how climate change may exacerbate conditions for transmission and complicate efforts to engage vulnerable populations in care.
MPH Candidate, Department of Environmental Health Sciences with a certificate in Health and Human Rights, Mailman School of Public Health
Next Generation Intern