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SOAS secures LIDC Fellowship grant for cross-college research project on drug injection in Kenya

4 June 2013

SOAS, University of London has secured funding for a cross-college project with Birkbeck and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to research drug injection in Kenya.

SOAS Lecturer in Comparative and International Politics Dr Phil Clark has been working with Dr Andy Guise, Research Assistance at LSHTM and Dr Paul Turnbull, Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck on the proposed project: ‘Mapping the social context of transitions to injecting drug use and HIV risk in Kenya’.

According to research, injecting drug use is emerging as a major risk factor for HIV in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. There is evidence of increased numbers of people injecting drugs, primarily heroin, and the rising HIV prevalence among this group.*

The aim of this project is to foster, through multidisciplinary collaboration, an analysis of the macro and structural context shaping transitions to injecting drug use in Kenya.

This project will enable SOAS, Birkbeck and LSHTM to combine sociological, political, economic and criminological perspectives to understand transitions to injecting in Kenya.

Dr Andy Guise, an early career researcher on the ‘Access to Care’ study, supported by Prof Tim Rhodes, will lead the fellowship within LSHTM.

Within SOAS Margarita Dimova is doing PhD research on the political dimensions of the heroin trade in Kenya, and will support the fellowship under the supervision of Dr Phil Clark.

Prof Michael Hough and Paul Turnbull from ICPR at Birkbeck will also support the proposal through their expertise in policy research in criminal justice and drug markets.

Dr Clark commented: "I'm delighted that our consortium has received this LIDC grant. Margarita Dimova has just returned from a year of extraordinary field research into the Kenyan heroin trade and she will play a key role in the LIDC project. This will lead to a range of academic publications and concrete policy recommendations for the Kenyan government and other governments in East Africa. This is an exciting opportunity to conduct this type of research and to strengthen research ties across the University of London."

Professor Jonathan Elliott, Royal Veterinary College, and Chair of the Bloomsbury Research Committee, added: “The Selection Committee was pleased to award an LIDC Fellowship to SOAS, Birkbeck and the LSHTM for their project that aims to study the social context of injecting drug use and HIV risk in Kenya. The project proposal is of high academic quality, with a lot of potential to foster future cross-Bloomsbury interdisciplinary collaboration. We congratulate the project team and wish them the best of luck.”

Grants of up to £5,000 were awarded and the projects are expected to start this spring

*Kenyan Government Ministry of Health (2009) HIV prevention response and modes of transmission analysis. Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya