Birmingham News Series Examines University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Zambian HIV/AIDS Program
The Birmingham News in a series of articles published on Sunday and Monday profiled the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Lusaka, Zambia, where U.S. and Zambian public health specialists work through a partnership between the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the Zambian government. CIDRZ has become a "key" player in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa and is distributing antiretroviral drugs at no cost with funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Summaries of the articles appear below.
- "In AIDS 'war zone,' UAB brings hope": CIDRZ "started small" five years ago, but the program now "wields the medical might of the United States" through its PEPFAR funding, according to the News. CIDRZ aims to provide antiretroviral treatment to 120,000 HIV-positive Zambians by the end of 2008. An estimated 170,000 people die of AIDS-related diseases annually in Zambia (Parks , Birmingham News, 3/13).
- "Health officials, support groups fight stigma of AIDS in Zambia": In Zambia -- where HIV/AIDS is "still marked by secrecy, denial and stigma" because of cultural beliefs -- many people are reluctant to undergo testing and treatment, according to the News. In response, Zambian health officials and CIDRZ workers are conducting public information campaigns about the dangers associated with HIV/AIDS and creating support groups to encourage testing and treatment (Parks , Birmingham News, 3/13).
- "UAB's plan for treatment blooms from early research": CIDRZ provides a "platform for a variety of research and treatment projects" for UAB in Zambia, including expansion into areas such as pediatrics, public health, obstetrics and gynecology and HIV/AIDS, according to the News. Grant money from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to provide antiretroviral drugs to patients at no cost and funding from PEPFAR have allowed the program to grow "beyond the imagination of any of us," Dr. Sten Vermund, a founder of CIDRZ and director of the UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health, said (Parks , Birmingham News, 3/13).
- "Plans proceed only after an audience with the king": CIDRZ Program Director Dianne Richmond recently led a group of health workers to seek the support of King Lubosi Imwiko to provide antiretroviral drugs at no cost to patients in the country's Barotseland region in the Western province, the News reports. The king expressed his support for the project and said he was "very pleased with the work" CIDRZ is doing, according to Richmond (Parks , Birmingham News, 3/13).
- "A dance to dodge death": The Chipata Jungle Theatre, sponsored by CIDRZ, uses the "native talents" of drums and dancing to fight the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in Zambia, according to the News. The group often provides "impromptu outdoor performances before crowds of everyday Zambians," which are followed up with information about clinics where people can receive HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, the News reports (Parks, Birmingham News, 3/14).