Burmese Student Wins Research Award at AIDS Conference

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 13 October 2015

RANGOON — A Burmese student completing his second graduate degree at Melbourne University has been presented with an award at the 2015 World AIDS Conference, held last month in the Australian city of Brisbane.

Dr. Khine Soe Lin, a public health practitioner and epidemiology student, received the Runner Up Poster Presentation Award for his research, ‘Identities in Motion: Cyberspace and Myanmar Men Having Sex with Men.’

“The other three papers all related to biomedical research. My paper, however, focused on using social networks to disseminate health knowledge among the general public. That’s why I think that I won one of the awards, because my research is close to the daily lives of the many people connected in this digital age that we live in,” Khine Soe Lin told The Irrawaddy.

Khine Soe Lin’s paper explores how men having sex with men (MSM) create identities through lived and mediated realities via online social networks. His research concluded that social networks could be appropriate channels for social and health programs targeting members of Burma’s LGBT community.

“Starting around Myanmar society had an increase in social media usage,” he said. “The reason why I focused my research on MSM is they are always living in hiding in this society because of discrimination.”

“My research found that we can indeed use social networks to share health knowledge and to create psychosocial support without revealing the identities of people who might want to protect confidentiality, including drug users, sex workers, and LGBTQ citizens,” he added.

Khine Soe Lin worked as a public health practitioner with the United Nations and international NGOs before moving to Melbourne to continue his studies.