Above: Massy Mutumba, 27, in front of Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone, a teen center where she volunteers.
As a nursing student in her native Uganda, Massy Mutumba came face to face with the ravages of HIV/AIDS. “My first patient was 14 years old,” Mutumba remembers. “She had contracted HIV through sex work. After her parents passed away, she’d taken up the sex trade to feed her siblings. It was such a very painful experience having to tell her, ‘You’re positive.’” Mutumba then took a job at a research center in Kampala, where she tested antiretroviral drugs in HIV-positive children, many of whom had also been orphaned by AIDS. A brand-new SPH graduate, Mutumba, MPH ’10, is about to embark on a doctorate in health behavior and health education at SPH. Ultimately she wants to return to Uganda to help the children in her country—especially HIV-positive children. “I want to establish programs where you teach life skills to these children, because if they are orphans and have to depend on others, they are more vulnerable to exploitation.” The biggest challenge with HIV-positive kids, Mutumba says, “is teaching them how to lead their lives without spreading the virus to other people. You have to teach them life skills—negotiating for safer sex practices, disclosing their status to people they want to have sex with. You also have to teach them alternatives. If their partner is not positive, and they want to have a child, how can they go about that? Everyone wants to get married. It’s something they really want as they grow up.”
SPH Students, Work & Play: Epidemiology postdoctoral fellow Malavika Subramanyam, in pink, leads a Bollywood dance class inside the School of Public Health. A native of Mysore, India, who’s taught Bollywood dancing for 20 years, Subramanyam sent an e-mail at the start of the winter term offering free biweekly classes, and around 25 students signed up. As someone new to SPH, she says, “it’s a nice way to meet people and to work out.”