- Evaluation Services
This talk is co-sponsored by Duke's Center for AIDS Research
Cape Town, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, embodies the intersection of three significant public health epidemics: alcohol and other drug use, sexually transmitted HIV, and gender-based violence. These interrelated risk behaviors and the settings where heavy drinking occurs in the sprawling township communities of Cape Town are entrenched in cultural and gender-role expectations that may act as barriers to sustaining the effectiveness of HIV prevention interventions. Historically, these townships have experienced inadequate governmental support and they have become cities within themselves with steadily increasing rates of poverty, unemployment, and disease. These socioeconomic conditions provide an ideal environment not only for the formative development and recruitment to conduct gender-based HIV prevention intervention studies but challenges steeped in male dominated traditions. Recently, HIV biobehavioral science has advanced with the development of interventions for women, men, and couples. However, a critical research question remains unanswered: can such programs address sociocultural expectations about gender roles in this region and help couples to reduce alcohol and other drug use, sex risk behaviors and violence and to learn to function within more egalitarian relationships?
This presentation will review several completed NIH studies and focus on an ongoing NIH trial in Cape Town township neighborhoods involving peer educators conducting womenâ€™s, menâ€™s and couples workshops for biobehavioral outcomes.
Wendee M. Wechsberg is senior director of the Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluations and Interventions Research Program at RTI International. She is also adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, adjunct associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, and adjunct professor of psychology in the public interest at North Carolina State University.
Wechsberg started her career in 1977 as an addiction clinician and later as a treatment director. Since 1994 she has devoted her career to applied research using both quantitative and qualitative methods to develop and test the efficacy of HIV prevention interventions among diverse populations of substance abusers. Her Woman-Focused HIV Prevention Intervention, known as the Womenâ€™s CoOp, funded by NIDA for more than 10 years, is one of CDCâ€™s best-evidence HIV behavioral prevention interventions. It has been adapted specifically for underserved and vulnerable adult and adolescent women in North Carolina, and in multiple regions in South Africa and in Russia. One South African adaptation is listed in the USAID Gender and HIV Compendium for African projects as â€œpromising practices.â€ It has recently been packaged and is currently being scaled up in one region of South Africa.
Wechsberg is currently funded by NIDA, NIAAA, NICHD, and CDC. In 2008, she was ranked third among all NIH-funded researchers who received HIV/AIDS investigator-initiated grants (Science, 321, 520â€“521). She has published extensively in the areas of gender and ethnicity, equity, outreach, methadone treatment, HIV risk, and cultural adaptations of interventions.