Randy Dowding

Master’s Student in Public Health and Master’s in Social Work

My summer internship involved placement at CAPRISA (Centre for AIDS Programme Research In South Africa), Durban, South Africa from May thru August. I was program coordinator for a research study designed to improve the health of adolescent girls by reducing HIV prevalence in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The rural community I worked in, Vulindlela, located 90km outside of Durban, suffers an adolescent unemployment rate exceeding 50%, an HIV prevalence rate as high as 65% for young girls and an annual income of less than $250. As project coordinator I was responsible for the design and implementation of household HIV testing and mobile medical unit employment to reach households not currently served by the public health centers. I coordinated local community-based teams, clinical/medical teams and health systems strengthening teams into a single concerted effort. The research study’s focus is to test ways to improve adolescent girls’ health, improve the South African health systems in a sustainable way and empower communities to improve general community health.