Postgraduate course

The HIV pandemic: Research challenges to improve prevention, support and care

  • ECTS credits5
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeINTH329
  • Number of semesters1
  • Language


  • Resources

Level of Study

Master and PhD

Teaching semester


Place of Instruction

Centre for International Health

Objectives and Content

Main Objective:

To create awareness of the complexity of the biomedical, epidemiological, health systems, social and cultural challenges related to the HIV epidemics in different parts of the world, and the need for interdisciplinary approaches in research and interventions.


The course is multi-disciplinary and all sessions will discuss challenges in research. The scope is global, but with particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Main topics:

  • HIV epidemiology and research challenges: transmission biology, global dynamics and trends, conceptual framework in epidemiological research as a basis for priority setting;
  • Demographic and social impact; stigma
  • Current bio-medical understanding and challenges in research: diagnostics, natural history, opportunistic infections, vaccine development and antiretroviral therapy
  • Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes: strategies, successes and challenges in practice and research (biological and socio-cultural)
  • The value of understanding the local ethnic-cultural contexts in HIV interventions
  • Sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • HIV counselling and testing: policies, effects and research on innovative delivery models
  • Cost-effectiveness and priority setting; cost effective prevention and care interventions; criteria for priority setting.
  • What works in prevention: scientific evidence and limitations
  • Monitoring and evaluation systems to guide programmes
  • Ethics and HIV
  • Global initiatives related to HIV

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student is able to:

  • explain bio-medical research challenges in HIV diagnostics, vaccine development, ART, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV;
  • recognize the importance of understanding socio-economic and cultural contexts of HIV transmission and identify related challenges in research;
  • discuss core methods used in epidemiological HIV research (prevalence and incidence) and debate challenges in research;
  • differentiate demographic, social and economic impact of HIV epidemics;
  • interpret major priority setting challenges related to HIV interventions and key ethical issues involved in research


The student is able to:

  • illustrate the value of the proximate determinants conceptual framework (the epidemiological context approach) in priority setting of preventive HIV interventions and discuss related challenges in research;
  • identify global patterns of HIV transmission, their possible explanations and relate them to research evidence on what works in prevention;
  • judge research evidence on models of HIV testing and counselling and debate research challenges

General competence

The student is able to discuss major priority setting challenges in international funding of HIV prevention and care.

Required Previous Knowledge

Proficiency in English at a level corresponding to TOEFL 550 or IELTS band 6.0 is expected.

Access to the Course

Students enrolled in the master programme in Global Health, students enrolled in similar programmes at UiB or other partner universities (e.g. TropEd Europe network). Max. number of students: 30; max. number of tropEd students: 10, Minimum number: 8.

Selection: Psychologists, social scientists, medical doctors, nurses and dentists specialising in public health and other health workers and managers with special interest in HIV epidemics and research challenges. Priority: master students and PhD candidates.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Interactive presentations by lecturers (morning sessions related to given literature); literature review (individually and with group discussions and student presentations; panel and group discussions. During the 2 weeks in Bergen the students are receiving lectures on scientific essay writing, select a relevant topic for a scientific essay and receive individual supervision, and after the 2 weeks in Bergen students write an individual scientific essay.

Literature: Scientific papers, reports and handouts.

Student investment time: 150 hours: 50 contact hours, 50 individual-study hours for reading of reference literature, 50 hours writing essay.

Forms of Assessment

Based on the assessment of prepared essay; length 2000-2500 words (list of references excluded). During the 2 weeks in Bergen the students are to attend sessions on scientific essay writing, and will receive individual supervision related to selected topic. Essays are evaluated independently by 2 of the professors (anonymous). Students who receive the grade "F" are allowed to re-sit according to standard procedures at the University of Bergen.

Grading Scale


Reading List


1. Report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic 2002. UNAIDS, hard copy (can also be downloaded from http://www.unaids.org)

2. AIDS epidemic update, December 2003. UNAIDS, hard copy (can also be downloaded from http://www.unaids.org)

3. Scientific papers

4. Handouts

Course Evaluation

Students evaluate the teaching according to the quality assessment requirements of the University of Bergen. The evaluation method is through an online questionnaire.


Contact Information

Centre for International Health, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care

e-mail: studie@igs.uib.no

Tel: 55588569