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A Calvin College professor of nursing has earned a grant from the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin to research the role of faith communities in HIV/AIDS prevention in Liberia.

Dianne Slager, a nurse practitioner who has taught at Calvin for three years, will use the funds to travel to Liberia this May to assess knowledge and attitudes about HIV/AIDS among church leaders and to evaluate the HIV/AIDS information programs they offer.

“There’s a great denial in West Africa of the significance of HIV/AIDS,” Slager said. “Even now, people in Liberia will say HIV/AIDS is not a big problem there, but World Health Organization statistics contradict that.”

Slager will work through the Christian Education Foundation of Liberia (CEFL), an organization that offers training to 600 pastors from more than 200 denominations. In addition to assessing the programs that exist, she will also develop educational approaches to HIV/AIDS for pastors to use with their congregations.

The project will serve as something of a homecoming for Slager, who lived in Liberia throughout the 1980s, doing health work while her husband, Tim, worked in literature development.

Slager has always wanted to return to Liberia, and she is eager to help change the prevailing attitudes toward HIV/AIDS in that country.

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—Calvin College media relations

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