SNF professorship for Olivia Keiser
02.03.2016 - Olivia Keiser, head of the research group HIV/ hepatitis at ISPM, was awarded an SNF professorship grant for her project “Understanding the HIV epidemic in Malawi: integrating quantitative and qualitative data in a mathematical model”. The research program is funded for the duration of four years and includes an interdisciplinary team of modellers, statisticians and social scientists.
Within Malawi and many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV prevalence varies widely between small areas. The reasons for this variability remain poorly understood. Taking Malawi as a case study, Olivia Keiser and her team will develop a novel interdisciplinary modelling approach to study how this variability may be related to the spatial distribution of ethnic groups and cultural practices that influence social and behavioural factors that impede or promote the transmission of HIV, and uptake of preventive measures.
To develop the model, the research team will extract socio-behavioural factors, possible associations, and hypothesised causal pathways from qualitative literature. They will then analyse several large datasets to study the causal associations between HIV-related factors and HIV status and identify high risk population groups, which can be targeted for interventions. Finally they will develop and parameterise a mathematical model for HIV disease progression and transmission to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions. Priority interventions will be discussed with the Ministry of Health.
The research programme will provide an in-depth understanding of region-specific socio-behavioural drivers of the HIV epidemic in Malawi, and will help determine how best to invest limited resources.