Acting U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Calls for Expanding HIV/AIDS Programs in Africa, Broadening Roles of Health Workers
June 14, 2006
International partners working to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa must broaden the roles of physicians, nurses and counselors in order to expand prevention and treatment programs across the continent, acting U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul said on Tuesday at the third annual President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief meeting in Durban, South Africa, the AP/Mail & Guardian reports (Cullinan, AP/Mail & Guardian, 6/13). About 1,100 HIV/AIDS advocates, researchers and scientists gathered Monday for the five-day conference, which will focus on promoting HIV prevention issues including HIV testing, behavior changes and prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/13). "We need to expand four- or five-fold from where we are now to reach all those who need antiretroviral treatment," he added, "But it will take years to train enough doctors and nurses to manage this." He suggested broadening the roles of all health workers, including training nurses to perform some of the services provided by physicians, such as monitoring HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy, and training other health care workers to perform services generally provided by nurses, such as HIV counseling and testing. For example, in Uganda, "clinical officers" -- who are neither nurses nor physicians -- have been trained to monitor people living with HIV/AIDS who take antiretroviral drugs, the AP/Mail & Guardian reports. According to Dybul, PEPFAR -- which is scheduled to end in 2008 -- has bipartisan backing in the U.S., so "there is no question in anyone's mind that the U.S. will continue to support the fight against [HIV/]AIDS" (AP/Mail & Guardian, 6/13). PEPFAR might exceed its $15 billion funding target by 2008, which is a reflection of the U.S.'s long-term commitment to addressing HIV/AIDS worldwide, Dybul said Monday (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/13).
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