It was a delight to have a two-for-one research meeting with Ndumiso Madubela and Caroline Reid. Madubela discussed his PhD research outline looking at how men in high HIV burden communities engage with their local health services. Reid discussed her master’s research in science journalism and outlined the popular science journalism process.
Women bear a greater burden of HIV than men, but males are still a crucial audience to target when preventing the spread of HIV. Madubela introduced his PhD topic, which aims to analyse what barriers Capetonian men face when seeking sexual reproductive health services. The goal is to use this research to inform community interventions that may be implemented in future trials.
The motivation for this research came from the opinions of young men in the community who feel that health services are sometimes too daunting for males to engage with. Madubela’s project aims to engage around 500 men in high HIV burden areas where clinic visits from males are sub-optimal. He intends to identify what deters young men from seeking HIV testing and treatment, and how to improve levels of male attendance in clinics. These questions will be answered by using a range of methods, including focus groups, in-depth interviews and questionnaires. These community dialogues, which have already begun, question the men on topics such as health service use, knowledge of STIs and specifically HIV, and recent sexual encounters.
The first community dialogue was a great success, with around sixty attendants from a variety of ages. The data gathered from this programme will help identify problems and steer the direction of future community dialogues, and eventually, successful intervention models.
Reid discussed her pilot study in the use of expert quotes in popular science journalism on the internet and identified ways that researchers can get their voices heard on the digital sphere. She commented that the internet has reinvented the way that journalists approach their art: with benefits such as increased resources and access to experts, but also with difficulties such as tighter deadlines. The research focus was on press releases on scientific research, which are identified as a popular source for news stories for journalists, and how the expert quotes in these press releases are used elsewhere.
Additionally, she had some tips for researchers on ways they can ensure their research results are seen: starting a personal blog or a blog collectively as a research group and to have some graphics for each paper coming out. These could be photographs of relevant images or easy-to-read graphs or infographics; these images are gems that may get your results noticed by journalists.
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We thank both our speakers for their engaging presentations and wish them good luck for their future research endeavours!