July 28, 2006

Grant to benefit HIV/AIDS clinics in Mozambique

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Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D.

Grant to benefit HIV/AIDS clinics in Mozambique

The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Institute for Global Health has targeted endangered communities in the African nation of Mozambique for an ambitious HIV/AIDS treatment project.

Sten H. Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., institute director, is principal investigator of the first-ever grant in Tennessee from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The $1.4 million grant is slated to support three clinics in Zambézia, the most populous province in Mozambique, where an estimated 18 percent of the adult population is infected with HIV.

“PEPFAR is funding a lot of work in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in 12 sub-Saharan African nations,” Vermund said. “Based on directives from, and approval by, the Ministry of Health, we will support the Zambézia Provincial Ministry of Health in its upgrading of three clinics to tackle HIV care and treatment. Later, we will begin a planning process to help the Inhambane province upgrade three of its clinics in 2007.”

With the help of the institute and its partners, Mozambique clinics will receive training and leadership to enable them to begin offering antiretroviral therapies in what will amount to the first modern clinical care for AIDS patients and HIV-infected people in the region.

“Care for HIV is just the start,” Vermund said. “This is a very rural area with countless barriers for giving and receiving health care for infections like tuberculosis and malaria, so it is a great opportunity to effect change for people living in the region.”

Vanderbilt's partners include Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and researchers from Brazil, who share Mozambique's national language of Portuguese.

They will serve as technical assistance, trainers, facilitators of operations and psychosocial support counselors.

A newly developed long range plan for the Institute outlines current activities in infectious disease control in India, China, Haiti and Pakistan. Institute-linked investigators are also working in chronic disease research in China, Ghana and elsewhere. Projects in Sudan and Ethiopia are also being planned.