Brown School Researchers Awarded Grant to Study Cancer Care for HIV Youth in Uganda

Faculty; Global; Public Health; Research

​The National Cancer Institute has awarded three Brown School researchers a $356,000 grant to identify confirmed and suspected cancer cases among more than 3,000 HIV-positive youth (ages 10-21), and explore preliminary outcomes of an intervention on access to cancer diagnosis, care and treatment of HIV-infected children in sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers are Fred Ssewamala, William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor; Kim Johnson, associate professor; and Ozge Sensoy Bahar, assistant research professor.

Worldwide, there are 2.1 million HIV-infected children younger than 15, with over 90 percent living in sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, where this study will take place, no prevalence data are available for pediatric cancer among youths with HIV.

The study is titled Suubi4Cancer (Suubi means hope in Luganda, the local language). It will enhance the Suubi Economic Empowerment intervention by incorporating cancer education addressing cultural misconceptions about cancer tumors. Researchers will test the theory that youth and their families’ cognitive and behavioral change is influenced by economic stability. They will also examine if enhanced cancer knowledge through intra-familial support and communication will help maintain positive behavioral health functioning and reinforce engagement in care and treatment. 

The study findings will contribute to the initiation of a regional registry for youths with HIV for cancer research. It also will increase understanding of the short-term impact of combination interventions addressing access to cancer diagnosis, care, and treatment adherence among youth living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.