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 - Social Medicine - International Health
Global Health and Socio-epidemiology
“Socio-epidemiology” is a new methodological approach for New Public Health started by our department in 2000. Integrating sociological and epidemiological scopes and methodologies, it takes a multidisciplinary approach encompassing epidemiology, biostatistics, mixed method approach (an approach that combines quantitative and qualitative methods), social marketing, behavioral science, communication science, quasi-experimentation and multiple sociological and philosophical perspectives. Utilizing this novel methodological approach, while following the tradition of Kyoto University that appreciates “field-based” rather than “arm-chair” activities, we value the practice in the field and deep socio-cultural understanding of people, explore the solutions that are both scientific and socio-culturally appropriate, and thus aim to contribute to the improvement of global health.

HIV/AIDS is the main field of our research. Using a socio-epidemiological approach, we have conducted a number of behavioral and prevention studies related to HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) both in Japan and abroad. Due to the achievements from these research activities, our department was designated in October, 2006 as the first Collaborating Centre for Socio-epidemiological HIV Research of the UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS). Education activities are focused on the systematic teaching of socio-epidemiology from the basic to application. Accepting many students from abroad (Iran, China, Zambia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Peru, D.R.Congo, Thailand, Swaziland, Yemen), teaching, mentoring and meetings are routinely done in English.

  Masahiro Kihara, M.D., Ph.D.
Research and Education
Research activities
Our major research projects include the WYSH Project (Well-being of Youth in Social Happiness) that aims to promote HIV/STDs prevention and well-being among youth in Japan and the HADI Project (HIV/AIDS Prevention Studies among Drug Users in Iran) that aims to promote HIV prevention among drug users in Iran.
WYSH Project is a combination prevention model for HIV/STDs education of young people developed by Masako Ono-Kihara, Associate Professor of the department, based on extensive quantitative and qualitative data and created through socio-epidemiological approach in 2003. Having been proven highly effective in improving knowledge, attitude and behaviors, it has grown into the largest HIV/STDs prevention education project in Japan and has been adopted as a national project by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) since 2004 and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) since 2007. WYSH Project holds a training course in Kyoto every year attracting several hundred for school teachers across the country.
The HADI Project has started in 2003 with a socio-epidemiological study that first described the HIV epidemic among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Iran and the needle/syringe sharing practice during incarceration as the major risk factor for HIV infection. Our further studies in cooperation with Ministry of Health, Iran and UN agencies (UNDP and UNODC) revealed the effectiveness of needle/syringe exchange program in the community and the methadone maintenance treatment in prison, having had a strong impact on shaping the national HIV prevention program of Iran.
Other research activities include a number of HIV/STDs related behavioral studies not only in Japan but also many developing countries including Mauritius, Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burkina Faso, D.R.Congo and Swaziland. Our recent project also includes the study on medical insurance access of Latin American immigrants in Japan. Our department has been playing a pioneering role in HIV epidemiology and prevention research in Japan since the middle of 1990s, now leading major MHLW-sponsored research groups as the principal investigators; Research on Monitoring of HIV Infection among Intravenous Drug Users and STI Patients (P.I.: M. Kihara) and Research on HIV Prevention among Young people(P.I.: M. Ono-Kihara).

Education and mentoring activities
In the first semester, in the class of Socio-epidemiology I, students learn the theoretical basis of socio-epidemiology; how multiple disciplines including quantitative method, qualitative method, behavioral science, communication science, social marketing, quasi-experimentation, and probability and non-probability sampling can be combined and integrated to reach deep socio-cultural understanding of the people and to create an effective and socio-culturally appropriate prevention measures to solve the problem. In the second term, in the class of Socio-epidemiology II, students are given a series of lectures and practicum on the theories and skills of qualitative methods including focus group interviews, various types of qualitative data analysis and on the theories and skills of questionnaire development. Throughout these courses students are expected to acquire adequate knowledge, skills and mindset to plan and implement socio-epidemiological project in future. Our department is also responsible for the education of infectious disease epidemiology including the topics such as emerging and re-emerging diseases, mathematical modeling of infectious disease epidemics, and field epidemiology.

UNAIDS Collaborating Centre
Office of the UNAIDS Collaborating Centre for Socio-epidemiological HIV Research is placed in our department. Activities of the centre include research, training, communication and networking. An information center equipped with various materials and books related to HIV/AIDS is open to the public.

Global Health and Socio-epidemiology
Professor Masahiro Kihara, MD, Ph.D

Masako Ono-Kihara, Ph.D.
(Director of the UNAIDS Collaborating Centre)
Mitchell D. Feldman, MD, PhD
(Professor of General Medicine, University of California, San Francisco)
TEL +81-75-753-4350
FAX +81-75-753-4359
Recent Publications
1. Suguimoto SP, Ono-Kihara M, Feldman MD, Kihara M.Latin American immigrants have limited access to health insurance in Japan: a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2012 Mar 25;12(1):238.
2. Zamani S, Ono-Kihara M, Ichikawa S, Kihara M. Potential for sexual transmission of HIV infection from male injecting-drug users who have sex with men in Tehran, Iran. Sex Transm Dis. 2010 Nov;37(11):715-8.
3. Visrutaratna S, Wongchai S, Jaikueankaew M, Kobori E, Ono-Kihara M, Kihara M. Sexual behavior of Japanese tourists visiting Thailand a key informant approach. J Pub Health Develop 8:33-44, 2010.
4. Ono-Kihara M, Sato T, Kato H, Suguimoto-Watanabe SP, Zamani S, Kihara M. Demographic and behavioral characteristics of non-sex worker females attending sexually transmitted disease clinics in Japan: a nationwide case-control study. BMC Public Health. 10:106, 2010
5. Zamani S, Radfar R, Nematollahi P, Fadaie R, Meshkati M, Mortazavi S, Sedaghat A, Ono-Kihara M, Kihara M. Prevalence of HIV/HCV/HBV infections and drug-related risk behaviours amongst IDUs recruited through peer-driven sampling in Iran. Int J Drug Policy. 2010 [Epub ahead of print]
6. Zamani S, Radfar R, Torknejad A, Alaei AB, Gholizadeh M, Kasraee F, Ono-Kihara M, Oba K, Kihara M. Patterns of drug use and HIV-related risk behaviors among incarcerated people in a prison in Iran. J Urban Health 87(4):603-16, 2010.
7. Zamani S, Vazirian M, Nassirimanesh B, Razzaghi EM, Ono-Kihara M, Mortazavi Ravari S, Gouya MM, Kihara M. Needle and syringe sharing practices among injecting drug users in Tehran: a comparison of two neighborhoods, one with and one without a needle and syringe program. AIDS Behav. 2010 Aug;14(4):885-90
8. Zamani S, Farnia M, Tavakoli S, Gholizadeh M, Nazari M, Seddighi AA, Setayesh H, Afshar P, Kihara M. A qualitative inquiry into methadone maintenance treatment for opioid-dependent prisoners in Tehran, Iran. Int J Drug Policy. (2009) Apr 21. [Epub ahead of print]
9. Kobori E, Visrutaratna S, Maeda Y, Wongchai S, Kada A, Ono-Kihara M, Hayami Y, Kihara M. Methamphetamine use and correlates in two villages of the highland ethnic Karen minority in northern Thailand: a cross sectional study. BMC Int Health Hum Rights. (2009) May 15;9:11.
10. Ma Q, Ono-Kihara M, Cong L, Xu G, Pan X, Zamani S, Ravari SM, Zhang D, Homma T, Kihara M. Early initiation of sexual activity: a risk factor for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection, and unwanted pregnancy among university students in China. BMC Public Health. (2009) Apr 22;9:111.
11. Hoque HE, Ono-Kihara M, Zamani S, Ravari SM, Kihara M. HIV-related risk behaviours and the correlates among rickshaw pullers of Kamrangirchar, Dhaka, Bangladesh: a cross-sectional study using probability sampling. BMC Public Health. (2009) Mar 11;9:80.PMID: 19284569
12. Ma Q, Ono-Kihara M, Cong L, Pan X, Xu G, Zamani S, Ravari SM, Kihara M. Behavioral and psychosocial predictors of condom use among university students in Eastern China. AIDS Care (2009) Feb;21(2):249-59.
13. Homma T, Ono-Kihara M, Zamani S, Nishimura YH, Kobori E, Hidaka Y, Ravari SM, Kihara M. Demographic and behavioral characteristics of male sexually transmitted disease patients in Japan: A nationwide case-control study. Sex Transm Dis (2008) Oct 2. [Epub ahead of print]
14. Cong L, Ono-Kihara M, Xu G, Ma Q, Pan X, Zhang D, Kihara M. The characterisation of sexual behaviour in Chinese male university students who have sex with other men: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health (2008) Jul 22;8:250.
15. Zamani S, Vazirian M, Nassirimanesh B, Razzaghi EM, Ono-Kihara M, Ravari SM, Gouya MM, Kihara M. Needle and syringe sharing practice among injecting drug users in Tehran: A comparison of two neighbourhoods, one with and one without a needle and syringe program. AIDS Behav (2008) doi 10.1007/s10461-008-9404-2,
16. Ma Q, Ono-Kihara M, Cong L, Xu G, Pan X, Zamani S, Ravari SM, Kihara M. Unintended pregnancy and its risk factors among university students in eastern China. Contraception (2008) 77: 108-13.
With Visiting Professor Michell D. Feldman, 2012
Socio-epidemiological study on sexual behavior of young people in Bangkok, Thailand, 2012
WYSH Project training course for school teachers in Kyoto, 2011
Socio-epidemiological study on antiretroviral treatment (ART) adherence in Kinshasa, D.R.Congo, 2012