Dr. Paula Braitstein is an epidemiologist living and working in Kenya since 2007. Most of Dr. Braitstein’s research has been oriented around major health and social issues in East Africa including HIV prevention and treatment, high risk children and youth including those who have been orphaned (from HIV and other causes), separated, abandoned, and those who are street-connected. Dr. Braitstein is increasingly turning her attention to issues related to climate change and planetary health, and the impacts and potential for resilience among vulnerable populations in East Africa and elsewhere. Dr. Braitstein is Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto (Canada), and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Chair of Applied Public Health. She is a Visiting Professor at Moi University School of Medicine (Kenya), Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University (USA). In addition to doing her own research, Paula is Co-Field Director of Research for the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) Consortium.
Current research projects
Peer Navigators: Now in year 3, this implementation research study is testing whether peer navigators, defined as young people with significant experience as a street-involved person, one male, one female, of mixed HIV serostatus, could increase linkage of street-connected young people to HIV testing, care, treatment, and other healthcare services.
Point in Time count: We recently piloted a PIT count in Eldoret, Kenya, using the Canadian experience as the basis for which to pilot. We used digital fingerprint scanning and systematically offered HIV counseling and testing, first aid and psychosocial support, during the census.
Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC): Male circumcision is an important HIV prevention intervention that once done, requires no behavioral modification. We adapted an educational curriculum developed as part of an alternative rite of passage for young Kenyan men, and offered the circumcision as part of a 10-day healing/educational retreat which taught initiates about their bodies, sex and sexuality, HIV transmission, treatment and prevention issues, as well as conflict resolution and communication skills. To date we have piloted the project with 120 male street youth.
Comprehensive Reproductive Health Clinic: In partnership with the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) program, we are piloting a comprehensive reproductive health clinic specifically for street youth, to include HIV testing and treatment, in a dedicated space for them by clinicians trained to provide care to this challenging population.
OSCAR Cohort: We are now in year 8 of a longitudinal cohort study or orphaned and separated children and adolescents including those living in institutional environments (orphanages, rescue centers), with extended family, and those living independently on the street.
More information is available on these and other projects at www.oscarcohort.com.