International Community Should Create ‘HIV/AIDS Corps’ To Speed AIDS Drug Distribution, Institute of Medicine Report Says
The international community should create an "HIV/AIDS Corps" similar to the U.S. Peace Corps to expedite HIV prevention, testing and treatment in developing countries, an Institute of Medicine committee on Wednesday said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Nesmith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/8). The committee's recommendations have been compiled in a report to be released at next week's XV International AIDS Conference (Bowman, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/8). Reductions in the price of antiretroviral drugs and increases in funding for global HIV/AIDS initiatives mean that the greatest obstacle now facing AIDS treatment programs is the shortage of trained health workers in developing countries, the report said (AP/Yahoo! News, 7/7). The rollout of treatment programs will require tens of thousands of health workers with experience in administering the complicated antiretroviral drugs regimens, as well as workers needed to arrange the daily operation of such programs, the committee said (Agence France-Presse, 7/8). To address the shortage of trained workers, partnerships and knowledge-sharing programs between medical, academic and business institutions should be developed between wealthy and poor nations, the committee said. In addition, a group similar to the Peace Corps should be developed to expedite testing and treatment programs (McAlary, VOA News, 7/7). Such a corps would take advantage of the "enthusiasm for global health in many young and old people," and allow members to gain experience in administering care to HIV-positive people, Dr. James Curran, dean of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and co-chair of the committee, said (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/8). The committee also called for the inclusion of tuberculosis control measures in conjunction with HIV treatment programs because about one-third of HIV-positive people also have tuberculosis, according to Reuters (Fox, Reuters, 7/7). However, Curran said that the "first and most important recommendation of [the] committee is to act now," adding, "Don't wait for all the answers. ... Act now" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/8). IOM is affiliated with the National Academies, which advise the U.S. government on health and science issues (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/8).
WBUR's "Here and Now" on Wednesday included an interview with Curran about the challenges of treating HIV/AIDS in developing countries, including the shortage of health care workers and lack of infrastructure (Westoway, "Here and Now," WBUR, 7/7). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.