Abbott and Abbott Fund Expand Commitment to Fight Pediatric HIV/AIDS in Africa

by VR Sreeraman on  July 23, 2007 at 3:59 PM AIDS/HIV News   - G J E 4
Abbott and Abbott Fund Expand Commitment to Fight Pediatric HIV/AIDS in Africa
Abbott and Abbott Fund announced several efforts to expand access to treatment and care for children living with HIV/AIDS, including an additional investment of US$12 million in grants and product donations this year. These programs will work to close some of the gaps in pediatric HIV care by increasing the number of trained, experienced pediatric HIV doctors and health care workers; establishing critical linkages between prevention, testing and treatment services for pregnant women and children within health care facilities; and working to overcome some of the cultural issues and stigma associated with HIV.

The need for programs to fight pediatric HIV/AIDS has never been greater, with more than one child becoming infected with HIV every minute of every day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.3 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Without care and treatment, it is estimated that three out of every ten children with HIV will die before they reach their first birthday, 50 percent by 2 years and 60 percent before they reach 3 years old.

"Abbott Fund began providing support for the care and treatment of HIV-infected children in resource-poor settings even before it was widely accepted by many experts," said Mark Kline, M.D., president of the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children's Hospital. "Thanks to their continuous support, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new era of hope for hundreds of thousands of children across Africa and around the world." New Programs Break Down Barriers to Pediatric HIV Care Expanding on its longstanding partnerships with Baylor College of Medicine and other leading organizations, Abbott Fund is providing new grants to Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and Family Health International (FHI) to explore new approaches to identify and enable women and children to better access HIV testing and treatment services in Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania.

In 2007, these initiatives are anticipated to help nearly 40,000 pregnant women receive HIV testing and more than 5,000 children receive HIV treatment through the following outreach efforts: · Abbott Fund will work with EGPAF in Tanzania to better identify and provide care and treatment for children and families affected by HIV; this program also will focus on working to stop the spread of HIV from pregnant mothers to their unborn children (known as prevention of mother-to-child transmission, or PMTCT).
· Abbott Fund's support will enable CMMB, through its work at 71 faith-affiliated health centers throughout Kenya, to provide HIV counseling, testing, treatment and PMTCT services to pregnant women in rural Kenyan villages, as well as provide infant care.
· Abbott Fund is partnering with FHI in Malawi and Tanzania to reach thousands of children with comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment services. FHI is integrating these services into its existing, large-scale HIV prevention and treatment programs in both countries.
Ongoing Programs Improve the Lives of Children Affected by HIV/AIDS. With these new grants, Abbott and Abbott Fund have now invested more than US$70 million over the past seven years on pediatric HIV prevention, testing and treatment programs.

A key part of this work has been Abbott Fund's longstanding partnership with Baylor College of Medicine to pioneer and expand a new pediatric treatment model, and train health professionals in pediatric HIV care. Abbott Fund supported the Baylor College of Medicine in establishing a pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment program in Romania that reduced the death rate for children with HIV by more than 90 percent. Baylor is now replicating this model program across Africa, including opening the first pediatric HIV clinic in Malawi in November 2006 with Abbott Fund and the Government of Malawi.

Baylor and Abbott Fund also partnered to establish the Baylor Children's Clinical Centers of Excellence Network to train health professionals and share best practices in HIV care. These pediatric health workers together treat 17,000 children with HIV -- the largest number of children with HIV in any treatment program worldwide.

Abbott Fund also provides care and support for orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS through innovative model programs that address specific community needs, including HIV testing, legal assistance for women and children, child-focused counseling and support groups, and vocational training. Since 2001, more than 600,000 children and families have received services.

The transmission of HIV from mother to child remains a significant problem in developing countries; more than 90 percent of children with HIV contract the disease during their mother's pregnancy, during birth or through breastfeeding. Testing is the first step toward achieving prevention, and Abbott is donating rapid HIV tests to PMTCT programs in 69 countries, including all of Africa. To date, Abbott has provided more than 5 million free HIV tests through the program.

Source: PRWIRE

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