Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Nigerian Professor Uses Nigerian Churches And Baby Showers To Battle HIV Spread

Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue, a researcher at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is earning praise from medical experts nationwide for coming up with a more effective way to convince pregnant women in Nigeria to be tested for the disease.

Ezeanolue had long sought to find a way to boost our country's testing rate when inspiration hit in 2011 after his wife threw a party to celebrate the upcoming birth of their fourth child.

"My wife said to me, why don't we use baby showers?" Ezeanolue said. "It was a way to remove some of the barriers, like stigma."

Ezeanolue and his wife (a physician)  eventually launched a research project in January 2013 using communal baby showers as an avenue to teach pregnant women about the importance of testing.

To convince women to get tested, Ezeanolue and his team of 10 fellow researchers organized baby shower parties led by religious leaders at worship sites in Southeast Nigeria and tested the women for HIV.

Dr. George K. Siberry, a medical officer at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the NIH said, "It was a very innovative way to use a community-based, faith institution-based approach to testing that had never been tried in Nigeria before."

Ezeanolue hopes to use his system in other countries that are battling high HIV rates. For now, he has his sights set on India.

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