Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis against HIV research
I am applying for a PhD position in a research group that conducts ethnographic fieldwork in an African country to study PrEP among local people. Here is my cover letter (with a statement of motivation). All comments are appreciated. Thank you.
Dear Members of Search Committee,
I am writing to apply for the PhD position for the OOO project at the Institute of Health and Society, University of UUU as advertised on your website. I have recently graduated with a Master's Degree in Gender Studies from University of XXX, and I believe my academic background and work experience have made me a good candidate for this position.
I am excited about this position as it combines perfectly my academic training in social science research with my desire to pursue a career in sexual health. As a volunteer peer educator and a freelance writer, I have actively participated in promoting sex education for the Chinese youth for six years. I am fully aware of the importance of improving reproductive and sexual health knowledge, understanding, and outcomes for everyone. Through facilitating the implementation of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis against HIV (PrEP) in Country Y with ethnographic work, the OOO project not only contributes to the development of HIV prevention work in Country Y, but also provides useful insights for stakeholders who engage in educating people about HIV globally. I see the great value of carrying out this project. I would like to contribute to this project with my learnings from the Chinese sex education projects I have participated in and my academic training in gender studies.
I look forward to contributing to the OOO project with my learnings of promoting and learning sexual knowledge in a non-Western setting both as an educator and a researcher. In addition to promoting sexual knowledge, during my master's studies, I have conducted a four-month online ethnography to learn how young people view sex and learn about sex via social media in China. Departing from my online observation, my master thesis analyses a disputed Chinese sex education textbook in the context of Chinese sex education tradition and social transition. By presenting and interpreting the Chinese cases for Western readers, I have learned to do research between cultural contexts. Compared to my research in China, the OOO project faces a similar challenge, as we are about to conduct research in Country Y - a Non-Western country with its own characteristics. Therefore, it would likely be greatly beneficial to utilize my knowledge of Chinese sex education in the OOO project.
I believe my academic training in gender studies can help contribute to a more holistic understanding of the research topic with a gender perspective. As the OOO project studies PrEP among same-sex attracted men (SSAM), transgender women (TGW) and persons who sell sex (PWSS), who are often marginalized and stigmatized in Country Y, it is important to acknowledge that gender matters in this project. Our study participants' attitude and behaviour concerning sexuality, identity, and HIV prevention are influenced by local gender roles, norms, and dynamics, and this should be critically examined within the specific contexts in Country Y. For example, the stigma associated with SSAM is a gender-related factor that contributes to men's vulnerability to HIV. Therefore, I wish to adopt a gender-sensitive approach to address the male vulnerability to HIV in the OOO project.
Finally, I am confident to participate in the OOO project both as an independent researcher and a team player. Completing my master thesis has enabled me to comprehend large amounts of information in limited time and manage projects for meeting deadlines on my own; while working as researcher and coach in other research projects has taught me to reach out to a diverse range of people and organizations, and facilitate group discussions. With these capabilities, I am well prepared to embrace the research tasks, whether it is to build rapport with study participants and conduct ethnographic work on my own, or to collaborate with peers to produce nuanced accounts of the study participants' experiences with HIV prevention and write research papers.
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the OOO project. With my experience in Chinese sex education projects, gender-sensitive approach to examine men's vulnerability to HIV, and capability to apply good academic rigor to my work, I hope to be part of the team for making the changes we wish to see in the health sector. Thank you for considering my application.