A model for HIV/AIDS care for export to developing nations with limited resources, is being worked on by scientists from Michigan State University (MSU) in the Dominican Republic.
The team, led by Reza Nassiri, the director of MSU's Institute of International Health, is treating patients and educating doctors at the Santo Domingo HIV/AIDS clinic.
"By focusing on clinical work and educational outreach, we have the opportunity to dramatically raise the standard of care in the Dominican Republic," said Nassiri, who has been researching HIV/AIDS for more than two decades and seeks to make MSU a global center for HIV education and clinical care.
"We hope to replicate our work in the Dominican and create a new model that can be taken to other countries with limited health care resources," he added.
That work includes expanding HIV/AIDS treatments and ensuring they are as effective as possible, according to Peter Gulick, an associate professor of internal medicine in MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"The testing procedures in the Dominican Republic are actually quite good," Gulick said.
"The problem is that drug treatments are based on outdated methods, and if medications are not being used properly many patients develop drug resistance. You cannot begin treatment based solely on physical diagnosis," he added.
For example, poor treatment methods lead directly to problems such as the inability to prevent mother-to-infant transmission.
Also, diseases such as tuberculosis are rampant and cause many complications and fatalities among those afflicted with HIV/AIDS.
"Tackling those issues and raising the standard of care from a clinical point of view involves establishing viral loads for HIV patients, measuring resistance to medications and working with Dominican physicians to guide more effective treatments," Gulick said.
Nassiri and his team selected the Dominican Republic for the initiative due to past medical relationships between Nassiri and the HIV clinic there as well as the fact HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults between 15 and 49 years of age.