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International Health

International Health Faculty Receives Gustav Martin Award for Innovative HIV Research

Haneefa SaleemHaneefa Saleem, PhD ’14, MPH ’09, an assistant professor in International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, received the Gustav Martin Award through the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research Faculty Development Award program. The grant will allow Saleem to study how social networks can be used to improve HIV care and treatment for women who inject drugs in Tanzania.

Since the 1990s, heroin use is an expanding problem in Tanzania. The prevalence of HIV among people who inject heroin in the country is estimated to be 6 to 10 times higher than the general population. The rate among women is even higher. 

“Women who inject drugs in Tanzania have high HIV prevalence, with estimates reaching 66 percent. Despite this, little is known about their healthcare experience, and many fail to receive HIV services at all. This study will help us identify factors that hinder or support their care-seeking behavior,” explains Saleem. “I’m very pleased that the Center for AIDS Research is investing in a population that is often overlooked.”

The research study will be based at a public clinic for opioid use at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam. In addition to assessing care-seeking factors, Saleem’s team will identify members of patients’ social networks who could help and encourage patients to seek and continue their care. The study will also assess the feasibility of engaging their social networks in future HIV care and treatment programs. “If we find, for example, that women’s intimate partners have a strong influence on their health-related behaviors, programs designed to engage their partners would be appropriate,” says Saleem.

Before joining the Bloomberg School faculty in 2017, Saleem was an implementation science technical adviser with Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation in Tanzania. Her work focuses on the social, behavioral and structural aspects of health—both internationally and domestically. And her research tries to better understand how environmental factors—physical, social, policy and economic—influence health behaviors and outcomes. She currently teaches the course Qualitative Research Practicum I: Partnerships and Protocol Development at the Bloomberg School.