Reducing HIV in Africa with ‘cash plus care’

by Lucie Cluver

Our work often feels like a series of battles against an enemy that outwits us.

Despite real global progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS (PDF, UNICEF website), children and adolescents remain left behind. Every hour, 30 adolescents are infected with HIV.  The situation is most severe in Southern and Eastern Africa, which accounts for nine in 10 of adolescent AIDS deaths. AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adolescents in the region.

We have realised that if we are to have any chance of winning the battle, academics need to work in close partnership with governments, UN agencies and policymakers – and with teenagers themselves. Our research studies are developed together with these groups, which often leads us to unexpected questions and findings. Continue reading

Lessons from Europe on fuel poverty: sharing knowledge globally

by Harriet Thomson

Fuel poverty, which is more commonly referred to as energy poverty outside the UK, occurs when a household experiences inadequate levels of essential energy services (such as heating, cooling, and lighting). Fuel poverty is a distinct form of poverty associated with a range of adverse consequences for people’s health and wellbeing – with respiratory and cardiac illnesses, and mental health, exacerbated due to low temperatures and stress associated with unaffordable energy bills. It is estimated that almost 60 million households in the EU are experiencing fuel poverty.

Whilst fuel poverty is gaining increasing recognition across Europe, and has been identified as a policy priority by several key institutions – including the European Commission and European Parliament – just a few years ago there were substantial gaps in knowledge about the issue. Continue reading

Bringing social science into the forefront of interdisciplinary research – a reflection of my time at the ESRC

by Tony McEnery

Former ESRC Director of Research and interim Chief Executive, Tony McEnery, reflects on some personal highlights and organisational successes during his time at ESRC.

I have had the unique privilege of working as Director of Research in two of the UK research councils – the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and, more recently, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It will come as no surprise to discover, then, that for me cross-council working comes easily – which was handy while steering the ESRC towards the move into UK Research and Innovation! Continue reading

The importance of our social environment in understanding suicidal behaviour

by Duleeka Knipe

Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year – that’s one death every forty seconds. A disproportionate number (76%) of these deaths occur in the world’s poorest countries. Our knowledge of the reasons why people die by suicide in this part of the world is severely limited, but a better understanding is desperately needed given that suicide is a leading cause of death in young people.

A huge barrier to improving our understanding is that we simply did not have good data from low and middle income countries to help us better comprehend this complex behaviour – until now. Continue reading

Why people believe in conspiracy theories

by Benjamin Lyons, Vittorio Merola, and Jason Reifler

Conspiracy theories are finally out of the shadows.

While that might be a bit dramatic, it is true that social scientists are beginning to pay more attention to conspiracy theories. As a result, we have an ever improving understanding of who believes in conspiracy theories, and why. Continue reading