Category Archives: Spring 2016

Botswana Leads in HIV Treatment

From left: Lyorlumun Uhaa, UNICEF; Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS; Max Essex, Harvard AIDS Initiative; Pride Chigwedere, UNAIDS, at a meeting for African Leaders in Addis Ababa. Photo by Aida Muluneh

By Martha Henry

Billions of dollars are spent every year on HIV/AIDS treatment programs. But how well are they working?
In the African country of Botswana, where 25% of adults (aged 16-49) are HIV positive, the answer is extremely well. In a recent paper in The Lancet HIV, researchers showed that Botswana is close to reaching the ambitious UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals. Continue reading

Sikhulile Moyo

President Mogae Sikhulile Moyo Photo by Dave Cliff

A native of Zimbabwe, Sikhulile Moyo moved to Botswana after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare in 1996. He started working at the Botswana Harvard Partnership as a Lab Assistant in 2003 and was promoted to Laboratory Coordinator, then Deputy Lab Manager, then to his current position as Lab Manager.

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The Blood in the Freezer

BHP Lab Technician

By Martha Henry

One tiny vial of blood contains a remarkable amount of genetic information about both the person from whom it was drawn and infectious agents like HIV circulating at the time of the needle prick. Because HIV mutates so quickly, having access to lots of samples to study is a valuable resource.

“It’s a diamond for science,” said Sikhulile Moyo, Laboratory Manager at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP). He was referring to the blood samples banked in the BHP freezers. “Specimens would be a more accurate term,” he corrected, “biological samples freely given to be processed for diagnosis or disease monitoring.”

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After the Capture: The Care and Treatment of Data

Erik van Widenfelt

By Martha Henry

“Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay!”
~ Sherlock Holmes

Science depends on data. A large clinical trial like the Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) depends on lots of data. When the multi-year trial in 30 Botswana villages concludes, researchers hope their data will provide a better understanding of how to prevent HIV infections. Continue reading

Erik van Widenfelt

When he first arrived in Botswana, Erik wasn’t an IT guy. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in cellular and molecular biology, he joined the Peace Corps in 1986 and taught science and English in Ghanzi, a dusty outpost on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. When his two-year assignment was up, he stayed on.

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What is Data Cleaning?

Nealia Khan

Data cleaning is the process of detecting and correcting bad records in a data file. Much of the early Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) data came from a baseline household questionnaire. Research Assistants (RAs) interviewed thousands of study participants and recorded their answers on laptops. The use of customized software minimized data entry errors. Continue reading