Trusted Messenger Intervention (TMI) for HIV/AIDS
In July 2010, I traveled with a group of undergraduates through the University of Michigan Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) program to work with Professor A. Oveta Fuller on a project regarding HIV/AIDS education. Prof. Fuller’s research centers on health equity; as such, she is working to develop and document sustainable intervention models for biomedical science education so as to reduce the burden of chronic and infectious diseases.
HIV/AIDS is a viral infection and global pandemic. Surprisingly, transmission of HIV/AIDS is easier to prevent than that of the common influenza virus due to its biological weaknesses. With the abundance of myths and misconceptions surrounding the virus, understanding the fundamentals of HIV/AIDS from a biological perspective is vital. A limited understanding leads to a lack of engaged leaders who address HIV/AIDS-related issues.
The goal of the Trusted Messenger Intervention (TMI) project in Zambia is to help reframe HIV/AIDS through science-based training of community faith leaders who can use their broad access and influence in their communities to address this global pandemic. TMI also encourages participants to seek voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) as a critical first step to take control of the virus and their own lives. While in Zambia, our team conducted workshops and rigorously documented our methods and outcomes.
Based on the positive feedback that the GIEU-Zambia team received from TMI workshops, participants expressed that they are more informed and ready to engage with their communities. The GIEU-Zambia team learned about HIV/AIDS in Zambia by observing first-hand how it affected communities that were visited. At the University of Michigan, we recommended that further consideration be taken to determine if ge TMI model could be scaled to other HIV-endemic communities.