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MSPH grad turns internship into field position

MPSH Grad Turns Internship Into Field Position

Ben Liestman, a recent MSPH grad, works with Research2Prevention in West Africa as field coordinator

When Ben Liestman left Baltimore in June 2012 for a summer internship in Burkina Faso, he figured he’d be back with time to spare before the School of Public Health convocation in May 2013. Important as it was to celebrate with his classmates, Liestman chose instead to stay put in West Africa where he’s helping to coordinate a large study of key populations for HIV prevention.

Prior to the internship, Liestman had finished all of the classroom requirements for a degree in International Health which allowed him to extend his time in the field, beyond the internship that was supported by the Center for Global Health Established Field Placement Awards.

Liestman has spent the past year working with local organizations in both Burkina Faso and Togo, helping to identify the extent of the HIV epidemic in two target groups: female sex workers and men who have sex with men. He’s investigating the social and behavioral risk factors specific to these populations in order to inform future prevention efforts. The study is part of the USAID-funded Research2Prevention portfolio managed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs. R2P seeks to answer the question: What are the most effective interventions for preventing the spread of HIV?

With plans to continue working in this field, and eventually attend medical school, Liestman says, “I can’t put enough emphasis on how much this field experience has helped prepare me for my long-term goals.”