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September 25, 1996

Circle of Light

Author Affiliations

Tucker, Ga

JAMA. 1996;276(12):930. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540120008002

Into the dark night, we pile out of the back of the van en masse. I have joined this group of national volunteers primarily out of curiosity. The specific skills for which I was hired are important for the treatment of disease but are not integral for this part of the research project. The volunteer ranks have swelled since the acquisition of an air-conditioned vehicle. Words of another language are tossed into the air, and there is much laughter. "Flash, flash!" Words in English! A box is brought forth, followed quickly by the distinct clicks of flashlights illuminating. Specimen-collection materials are gathered and distributed. The large fluorescent light ingeniously attached to a battery is lit. We follow the circle of light off the dirt road and onto a dusty footpath.

The quiet, rhythmic rustle of sugar cane leaves accompanies our trek into another world: the research site. The sky is