About My Project-Airport Ramblings (Lexington, Kentucky)

5 Jun

Thank you for visiting my blog page! I am gearing up for my second trip to Brazil in a year, my last visit being last September-December 2011. I am traveling to Salvador Brazil to volunteer and conduct a research project funded through DukeEngage. Salvador is the capital of Bahia and the third largest city in Brazil. It is home to the largest Afro-Brazilian population. Having lived in Salvador before, I can attest to the manner and degree to which Bahia remains in touch with its African past. From the traditional foods, to the dance, to the everyday lifestyles, the influence of the region’s African roots is hard to ignore, which makes living in Salvador (in my opinion) a cultural and historical experience. Besides the rich culture of the area, Salvador is a very vibrant city, known for hosting the biggest party in the world, Carnaval. Due to its laid-back lifestyle and sometimes lack of the concept of deadlines (time), Salvador is sometimes referred to as the happiness capital of Brazil.

So, obviously, that’s why I chose to spend my summer there….

Well, that, and also because of my interest in health care systems and population health. With the highest Afro-Brazilian population in all of Brazil, Bahia as a whole is disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. As a fourth-year pre-med/health policy major at Duke University, I am currently studying disparities in health, and the manner in which structural inequalities and barriers within societies create injustices in health care outcomes across racial and gender lines. I am particularly interested in the intersection of race, gender, and culture, and the role each plays in creating disproportionate figures among health and socio-economic outcomes.

I fundamentally believe that health is a human right, and that various structural inequalities embedded within societies disbar certain groups of individuals from attaining their optimal health status. The relegation of racial, ethnic, and gender groups within a society to a lower social status leads to a neglect of this group’s basic social and economic rights. This neglect manifests itself through poor health outcomes in comparison to other members of the population. These disparities represent key societal injustices and present substantial barriers for those who are attempting to advance themselves socially or professionally, as they remained trapped within a cycle of poverty and disease.

Given my background interests in studying health from a sociological and human rights perspective, I have chosen to focus on marginalized populations for my research. My research is centered around studying HIV/AIDS transmission among female sex workers working in Pelourinho, Salvador, Bahia-Brazil. For my project, I am conducting focus groups, life history reports, as well as formal one-on -one interviews with female sex workers working in Pelourinho to determine what structural and societal factors contribute to a lack of condom usage in their profession. The factors that I am particularly interested in targeting involve corruption among police/governmental workers, drug use among workers or their clients, and instances of rape, sexual assault, or gender-based violence.

While it seems like a very loaded topic, I think the nature of my project capitalizes upon the manner in which health is a multi-dimensional topic, stemming from a wide array of structural barriers and inequities, extending beyond mere access to health care and appropriate health care infrastructure.

That’s all for now. I would love if they would stop telling me that they are doing maintenance on plane because I can clearly see the plane, and its pretty much been sitting there for the past hour.


3 Responses to “About My Project-Airport Ramblings (Lexington, Kentucky)”


  1. On Brazilian Time « brasilian banter - November 25, 2012

    […] led me to pursue this cause. You can read about them in detail in my other posts, specifically this one or my “about me” section. But to sum up my reasons for working with this topic in […]

  2. On Brazilian Time | blue devil banter - June 18, 2013

    […] led me to pursue this cause. You can read about them in detail in my other posts, specifically this one or my “about me” section. But to sum up my reasons for working with this topic in […]

  3. “Who Cares about Us–We are Just Women of the Street” (Honors Thesis) | blue devil banter - September 15, 2013

    […] In response to the number of requests I’ve gotten from current Duke students/study abroad students who are interested in reading about my work in Brazil with female sex workers, I’ve dedicated this post to focusing on details of my actual research project.  If you are interested in my motivations for working with HIV prevention and sex workers, you can read more about my experiences in the field in one of my previous postings. And for those who are interested in the socio-cultural backdrop of the project, you can read about here about why I selected Salvador (Bahia), Brazil as my site for undergraduate research and why the HIV/AIDS p… […]

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