Dr. Peter Mudiope, a Ugandan medical researcher, has won the The Women, Girls and HIV Investigator Prize sponsored by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and UNAIDS. It’s one of four prestigious awards presented at the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington.
“I am very excited for having won…,” said Mudiope on receiving the prize, which is also supported by the International Centre for Research on Women and the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.
The award, he said, is a great personal achievement but also an important one to the research project employing him, collaboration between Makerere University and Johns Hopkins University (MU-JHU) at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda.
The joint project, which was started in 1988, aims to improve the health of women, children, and families who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Over the four years that he has worked with the effort, Mudiope has risen through the ranks of research associate, clinic physician to investigator.
He was also a co-investigator in a number of studies aiming to improve management of HIV/AIDS services and the promotion of men’s participation in efforts to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their children.
“We are worried about the current figures on HIV prevalence in Uganda,” he said. They show higher rates of HIV among women.
He said he wasn’t sure whether they may be due in part to the fact that women are tested more often than men.
“Women have the opportunity to test for HIV when they become pregnant; they come [to the hospital] for ante-natal, post-natal exams, but men do not have any obvious entry point in the national health system in Uganda.”
Mudiope also noted that since “we are also seeing high HIV prevalence among married couples, it would be helpful for men to come for testing with their wives”
The “Peer -Senga” study, for which Mudiope won this year’s award, was aimed at improving linkages to care for HIV infected families.
This two-year “community intervention” consisted of counseling, home visits and community sensitization by peers, community laymen (Kojjas) and women (Sengas) and village health teams in Kampala-Urban and Mpigi-rural districts.
The study, he said, showed that male attendance at antenatal and post natal clinics could be significantly increased by using trained lay persons for community education.
It also documented increased attendance of postnatal clinic by the HIV positive mothers and their babies.
“We still need to do more to turn the tide of HIV. Everybody is coming on board, and I think we can turn the tide on HIV,” said Mudiope.
The US $2,000 prize is awarded to an investigator from a low-income or middle-income country whose abstract demonstrates excellence in research and/or practice that addresses women, girls and gender issues related to HIV and AIDS.
The award serves to highlight the challenges faced by women and girls in the epidemic and to encourage investigators from low- and middle-income countries to pursue research in the area.
Other winners included pioneering researchers from Australia, Belgium, Botswana, India and the US.
The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 16,000 members from more than 196 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS.