Ecological influences on risk for sexually transmitted disease in a semi-nomadic population in Namibia

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Ashley Hazel
Date and Time: 
Monday, December 2, 2013 - 12:00pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


The pastoralist community of Kaokoland, Namibia has long been presumed to be high risk for several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), due to the local cultural acceptance of maintaining multiple sexual partners, lack of access to or interest in condoms, and poor access to healthcare. I conducted an interdisciplinary, field- and lab-based study to a) measure prevalence of genital herpes and gonorrhea in rural Kaokoland and b) identify ecological and social risk factors for both diseases. Genital herpes (a lifelong viral infection) and gonorrhea (a self-limiting bacterial infection) are both highly prevalent, but risk for these infections distributes differently across the ecological and social landscape. In this talk, I will discuss my findings about STD risk in Kaokoland as well as introduce the new work I am developing there to explore patterns of emergent mobility and how they may influence ominous new epidemiological transitions.


I completed my PhD at the University of Michigan in the School of Natural Resources and completed an NIH training fellowship in the Interdisciplinary Program in Infectious Diseases at Michigan’s Department of Epidemiology. My undergraduate and master’s degrees are both in anthropology. I have been conducting research in Namibia since 2007. In my new position as a postdoc with Jamie Jones, I am expanding my research in Namibia as well as conducting research into the social networks for poultry-industry workers in Bangladesh. My interests include human ecology, migration and emergent mobility, social environments of disease risk, social network theory, and designing mixed-methods field studies.

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