January 14, 2010
A quick note on some HIV/AIDS-related news trickling out of Haiti in the aftermath of this week's devastating earthquake: A key HIV/AIDS clinic in Haiti, the GHESKIO facility in Port-au-Prince, has been severely damaged but most of its staff is accounted for and OK, according to a message from Jean W. Pape, M.D., the director of the facility.
GHESKIO, short for the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, was founded in 1982 and was among the first to study the rise of HIV/AIDS in the developing world. According to GHESKIO's official Web site, GHESKIO has since evolved into Haiti's official HIV/AIDS research and training center, and it maintains a clinic in Haiti's capital city.
This blog post from The Scientist staff writer Bob Grant has a bit more info on the condition of the GHESKIO clinic, Dr. Pape and his staff. Our friends at POZ have also recently posted some information on the GHESKIO clinic, as well as the general state of HIV/AIDS and medical aid efforts in Haiti.
Weill Cornell Medical College, where Dr. Pape is a professor of medicine, has posted information on how you can help GHESKIO get back on its feet by making an online donation or mailing in checks that will be passed along directly to the organization. (For those of you who don't trust online donations and don't send checks via snail mail anymore, keep in mind you can set up your online bill payment system to send a check pretty much anywhere.) Meanwhile, the New York-based organization Aid for AIDS International is accepting donations of unexpired HIV-related medications that it plans to send to HIV-positive people in Haiti who need them.
I won't waste time or space by blathering on about the mind-numbing tragedy that's still just unfolding in Haiti; plenty of people have done that already, and now is the time for action, not hand-wringing. Please help however you can, whether by sending funds to GHESKIO or finding another way to donate.