Researcher From Penn Presents on ‘Stigma’ at World Bank, UNAIDS Conference

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto | | 215-898-4820January 13, 2014

Toorjo Ghose, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, presented his research at an invitation-only national UNAIDS conference in Washington, D.C., Jan. 9-10, hosted by the World Bank.

“This gathering might really change the way we view the path to an AIDS-free world,” Ghose, who came to Penn in 2007, said.

Social Drivers to End AIDS and Extreme Poverty” was a strategic discussion of structural interventions to address the effect of inequality, marginalization and other social influences of extreme poverty on the global AIDS pandemic. It examined interdisciplinary approaches to merge global development and HIV responses with overall goals for equitable and sustainable progress.

Ghose’s invitation to the exclusive meeting resulted from his work with the National AIDS Housing Coalition, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and the World Bank.

Ghose addressed the Washington group on the topics of stigma, homelessness and HIV in marginalized communities such as sex workers, earthquake victims and homeless transgender communities.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, a physician and anthropologist, started Partners in Health with Paul Farmer in Haiti. Ghose said the organization has changed the way people view HIV interventions.

“Their work in Haiti,” Ghose said, “showed us that we need to integrate a social structural perspective into the medical discourse surrounding HIV, especially in resource-poor contexts such as Haiti; however, this has remained a marginalized viewpoint for the most part in global HIV intervention efforts.”

Ghose has spent his career focusing on substance abuse, homelessness and HIV interventions, and has worked with vulnerable populations all over the world. He studies the way factors like housing, community mobilization and organizational characteristics influence substance use and HIV risk.

His research among HIV-infected sex workers and transgender people in India, New York and Philadelphia has examined the effectiveness of social-movement mobilization in reducing HIV risk among those populations.

Ghose’s research has touched many lives, including HIV-positive veterans who are homeless, those who receive substance-use treatment, men who are victims of male-perpetrated rape, homeless HIV-positive women who have recently been released from prison, as well as HIV risk, treatment and services for men who have sex with men and sex workers in the post-earthquake encampments in Haiti.