On January 20, 1980, a research collaboration began between the departments of Medical Microbiology of the University of Nairobi and the University of Manitoba that has expanded and persists today at the core of HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases research in the country. Originally, the research involved the study of the pathogenesis and transmission of sexually transmitted bacteria (chancroid) between men and women and from infected mothers to their children. With the discovery of HIV/AIDS, the research expanded to include the study of this virus and diseases it caused as well as other sexually transmitted viruses.
The collaborative group worked on a range of infectious diseases but the primary focus has been on HIV/AIDS and over the years a significant amount of information and data from these studies has contributed to the global understanding of the virus and the virus/host interaction. The project purposed to strengthen the prevention and management of STDs and HIV infection/AIDS by establishing sustainable community activities, and improved STD control services emphasizing women's health and involvement. The project's model was based on using a "syndromic" approach to STD management, and decentralizing services for STD management to primary (clinic) level.
On the community side, the project concentrated its efforts on female sex workers through peer education/counselling approach, deriving its rationale from the "core group" theory of STD/HIV transmission. The "core group" theory argues that the transmission of HIV can be significantly reduced by changing the sexual behaviour of the HIV "high frequency transmitter" core groups such as the female commercial sex workers. The project was implemented by the University of Manitoba (UM) and University of Nairobi (UoN).
Since then, HIV/AIDS programming has been scaled up through the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and BILL & MELINDA GATES Foundation to include Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP) and Technical Support Unit (TSU) that offer support to the government of Kenya.
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