HST students w Traditional Healers_1

Nineteen MIT undergraduates attended the inaugural HST course “Evolution of an Epidemic”, taught during the 2017 IAP in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.  Focusing on the HIV epidemic as an example, course directors Bruce Walker (Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard) and Howard Heller (MIT Medical) built a curriculum around how the medical, scientific and public health communities identify the emergence of a new epidemic, discover the cause through clues provided by disease manifestations in patients, develop drugs and vaccines, and how policy decisions and advocacy influence the course of the epidemic.

The week-long course involved morning lectures on HIV epidemiology, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention, followed by afternoon field trips to visit traditional healers, speak with infected and at-risk individuals, tour urban and rural health care facilities, and visit diverse research sites. The students also traveled to the Wellcome Trust-funded Africa Center in a rural area three hours north of Durban, where they participated in a “data palooza”. . .