Dennis Willms is currently engaged in the design, dissemination, and evaluation of culturally compelling HIV and AIDS interventions in Malawi and Uganda.
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Having worked in Sub-Saharan Africa for over 30 years as a medical anthropologist addressing priority health and development concerns (first in Lesotho, then subsequently in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe), Dennis Willms is currently engaged in the design, dissemination, and evaluation of culturally compelling HIV and AIDS interventions in Malawi and Uganda. The determinants of risk and vulnerability for HIV are linked to the broad-based development issues – gender inequities, poverty, migration, ethnic strife – and such, require morally imaginative practices and solutions. HIV, he posits, is more than a biomedical construct requiring treatment and supportive care. It is inherently a social-cultural problem, and as such, demands comprehensive “development” strategies in the context of communities unraveling and where the number of orphans and vulnerable children increase each day. He will delineate some lessons learned in this effort. His reflections are a consequence of facing enumerable obstacles – issues which demonstrate a moral calculus for explanation and practice – and which challenge current notions of and for “development”.
Dennis Willms has worked in Africa for over 30 years – principally in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Malawi – and has for the last 15 years concentrated on HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention research. His abiding interest is in translating what has been learned about the social, cultural, and behavioural determinants of HIV risk into relevant programs that meet the needs of those most vulnerable.