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Confronting AIDS and Its Impact in Africa

Part one of a documentary from the tea fields of Kenya


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In the video above, join BU School of Public Health researchers in the tea fields surrounding Kericho, Kenya.

A tea field in western Kenya, green flat-topped bushes rolling mile after mile to the horizon, is an unlikely place to find researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health.

Yet for nine years a team from what is now the Center for Global Health and Development has pursued an even more unlikely mission: using tea plantations, their unique culture and meticulous record-keeping, to study workers who have contracted HIV, the deadly virus that produces AIDS. The hope, after years of research? To prove to corporations across the African continent, and elsewhere, that providing good health care for HIV-positive workers is a worthy way to save lives — and a sound business investment.

The work is complicated, morally as well as scientifically, pushing academia’s usual boundaries and raising many intriguing questions. And so in a documentary series beginning today, stories from Kenya’s tea fields and hospitals, told in large part by Boston University emissaries, explore issues of life and death, moral judgment in a business context, and the role of scientific research in public and private policy.

A small town at the heart of tea country is the locus; big questions at the heart of how to understand and care for people with HIV is the overarching subject.

Today, part one. Tomorrow, part two.

Additional editing by Joe Chan and Anna Horowitz-Gelb. Additional videography by Philip Zekos.

Seth Rolbein can be reached at srolbein@bu.edu. Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.

An in-depth written account of BU’s involvement in Kenya is in the Winter-Spring 2010 Bostonia.

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