Lia Pizzicato - Lima-Peru
Career goal: To conduct HIV and tuberculosis research with a specific focus on vulnerable populations in Latin America.
Internship outline: Lia spent her summer implementing a study at La Asociación Civil Impacta Salud y Educación (IMPACTA), Peru’s largest non-governmental organization dedicated to clinical, biomedical and public health research related to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. She used self-report surveys to assess alcohol and drug use in a population of HIV positive men who have sex with men and transgendered women in Lima, Peru. Using clinical histories and patient appointment information, she examined whether there was an association between substance use and engagement in care, adherence to antiretroviral therapy and HIV treatment outcomes such as CD4 cell counts and viral load.
Value of experience: During my internship, I had the opportunity to gain global health research experience. I worked with many different people within the organization gaining IRB approval, designing my survey, implementing my study and analyzing data. Conducting research this summer was an incredible learning experience. I faced many challenges working in an unfamiliar setting in a language which was not my first, but it was a truly rewarding and incredible experience.
Best moment/experience: My favorite experience was participating in IMPACTA’s monthly Tour of Heroes. We went to eight different dance clubs throughout Lima with the heroes EXA-MAN, who promoted getting tested for HIV regularly, and PUMAX, who shared important messages on prevention of HIV transmission. During our visits to the clubs, we also handed out glow sticks and condoms.
Funding source: Overlook International Foundation