I embarked on the doctoral path in the same year that I got married, therefore my marriage and PhD journey were always intertwined. Thanks to my understanding wife and family, I was able to complete my work in adolescent HIV successfully. Additionally, the funding from the SAMRC, NHSP enabled me to focus on my research without worrying about our monthly expenses. When I graduated at the end of 2018, my wife told me that she was expecting our first child after the graduation ceremony, which was the perfect ending to my PhD journey. My work on the brain of perinatally HIV-infected children enabled me to demonstrate altered connectivity in brain regions involved in social, language and cognitive development. I plan to continue work in the field of brain imaging and adolescent HIV to investigate the interplay of other risk factors such as mental health and substance abuse in this vulnerable cohort. Adolescents are the leaders of tomorrow, and it is imperative that we ensure they are provided with the support and growth needed for the future of this country.
Dr Jean-Paul Fouche