Vinie Kouamou is a Cameroonian PhD student in Life and Environmental Sciences, specializing in HIV Molecular Virology. Her research is entitled “The effect of pre-treatment drug resistance on the effectiveness of dolutegravir (DTG) among adults who had initiated or re-initiated first-line antiretroviral therapy containing DTG in Zimbabwe: a cross-sectional study”. She is one of the winners of the 2021 edition of the Young Talents Award of the For Women in Sciences program supported by the L’Oréal Foundation. Interview portrait.
Interviewed by Ange Iliza, in Kigali
Vinie Kouamou, what is your background?
I am originally from Cameroon but I work in Zimbabwe where I am a PhD student working on HIV drug resistance.
Why this interest in science?
My primary interest is in HIV drug resistance because HIV remains one of the deadliest diseases in Africa. And, the current focus on COVID should not obscure the fact that we still have pandemics like AIDS in Africa, and specifically in Zimbabwe, where HIV prevalence is still 14%. In these circumstances, resistance to antiretroviral therapy is a major obstacle to effective treatment.
My work therefore has three main objectives:
First, the aim is to address the problem of HIV drug resistance in young people living with HIV and AIDS. Secondly, it is to optimise the treatment of these young people who fail their treatment using a bioinformatics algorithm. Finally, the last and most important objective is to implement a low-cost and faster method to detect HIV in this population.
Why do you think women in science should be promoted in Africa?
I would like to start by quoting the L’Oréal Foundation. The world needs science. Science needs women. We know that women have a great capacity and ability to do great things. But today they are under-represented, even though they have all these brilliant ideas.
So I think we need to encourage them, celebrate them, motivate them to know that they can do these things and that they can be role models for other people, so that together we can solve all these problems in the world. This is one of the reasons why the world needs science and science needs women.