STEP Story: Jiasheng (Jason) Wang

MS4, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, China
Kisumu/Rongo/Migori/Ahero, September 8 – October 27, 2017

Jiasheng (Jason) WangThe diversity of Africa always intrigued me. The dream of visiting the vibrant continent came true after FACES accepted my application for a research project called AdaPT-R, a study aiming to compare the efficacy of different methods in retaining HIV patients in the clinic. After arriving in Kisumu, I was soon impressed by how well the study was organized and how passionate the researchers were. With five sites spanning four different sub-counties, the study is able to enroll around 2,000 patients in west Kenya. During my two-month stay, I was involved in qualitative coding of interviews, locating missing data in different sites, and refining protocols to capture different types of clinical visits. I felt well supported by the crews in both Kenya and UCSF.

Besides all of this, I was lucky to get to know the people and culture in Kenya. During the partner navigation sessions, I was able to go to the homes of Kenyans with local researchers. I remembered a single mother of three suffered from HIV living in a remote urban area. The family was so poor that the home was built with wooden sticks, battens and iron sheets, directly upon the muddy ground. The mother had missed several clinical visits because she couldn’t afford the transportation. Life struck her hard when the husband left her and her newborn child was diagnosed with HIV. However, she did not lose hope. She tried her best to continue her life and make money by selling home-made fried peanuts, and breeding and raising crickets. I was moved by her courage to face the difficulties in life. When she came out at the end of brave days, she was an average Kenyan mother and also a hero of life.

Kisumu is a beautiful town with a lot of exciting activities. The sunset at Lake Victoria was stunning. Dunga hill camp was my favorite place to hang out for Sunday afternoons. I also had the opportunity to explore the incredible landscape in Kenya. Connecting with a local organization called CooP-Kenya, I was able to bike through Kakamega Rain Forest and hike Mount Elgon.

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay in Kenya. It was the experience of a lifetime. On my last day in Lumumba, a researcher pointed out a building and told me how a surgeon first came to Kenya as a medical student, and came back many years later with an affordable male circumcision technique and a donation to build a circumcision center, to help reduce the transmission rate of HIV. I believe I will come back as well.