Field Experience

6
Aug

Gender Approaches to Health

Jocelyn Wagman has thought a lot about how women and men approach health differently.

Throughout her public health education, she has studied gender norms in human health. A stark example: how men are less likely to go to the doctor than women. “That’s rooted in a real thing,” Jocelyn says. “Masculinity doesn’t make a lot of room for men to admit weakness.”

For several months in the summer and fall of 2016, Jocelyn used her background to think about gender norms in a very specific way — and on a global scale. Her School of Public Health field experience was an internship, through the Global Health Fellows Program, with the United States Agency for International Development. Her job: to help USAID improve the targeting of its HIV testing and treatment programs across the world by taking a deeper look at which men were not getting tested, and why.

“We were looking at survey data, and looking at people with HIV and without,” Jocelyn says. “And we were specifically trying to understand who might be the most likely to have undiagnosed HIV and the least likely to go get tested. What’s the profile of someone who is at high risk for HIV and has a low likelihood of getting tested? And then we wanted to identify strategies and programs that could be useful in reaching these men with HIV testing and treatment.”

Jocelyn says that in some places around the world, a man knowing his HIV status means “having to put parameters around one’s sexual behavior, and is a deterrent to getting tested and getting treatment.”

While USAID has HIV programs throughout the world, Jocelyn’s team wanted to do a more focused analysis — so it chose to focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

“We were trying to figure out a process that could be replicated — so we could look at any country where we have this data and break it down and ask: are we targeting these folks who we think are at the highest risk?”

Jocelyn says she hopes USAID will be able to use the survey data she used for her analysis in countries throughout the world. She also hopes USAID teams working throughout the world might be able to adopt recommendations from her analysis.

Jocelyn says she loved the work. “I felt really good about what I was able to accomplish,” she says.

Jocelyn graduated in December 2016 with a Master of Public Health/Master of Social Work dual degree in Health Management and Policy and social work. She is now a medical social worker for the VA Portland Healthcare System.

She says the field experience helped her transition “from being a graduate student to being in the workforce — to figure out how my skills translate, and to help me feel more comfortable as a professional doing public health work. It helped me gain confidence and understand my strengths as a professional.”