Birmingham News Series Examines Impacts of HIV/AIDS in Zambia, University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Program
The Birmingham News in a series of articles published on Sunday and Monday examined the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia on religion, child care and maternal and child health. The newspaper also examined the strain the epidemic places on U.S. health care professionals who are working at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Lusaka, Zambia, through a partnership between the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the Zambian government. Summaries of the articles appear below.
- "AIDS creates child-care crisis": Zambia has a "growing population" of AIDS orphans who receive "only the barest of necessities," the News reports. According to the United Nations, at least one parent of 630,000 Zambian children -- or about 23% of all children in Zambia -- have died of AIDS-related causes. Children affected by HIV/AIDS in Zambia receive "neither priority testing nor treatment," and the Zambian government has been unable to "mount an effective response to the problems," according to the News. As a result, individuals and organizations, including UAB doctors, are trying to provide aid (Parks , Birmingham News, 3/20).
- "HIV treatment offers hope for newborns, but some risks remain": Zambian women face "tough choices" regarding whether to use antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their fetus or infant, the News reports. The use of single-dose nevirapine to prevent vertical HIV transmission can lead to future drug resistance, leading experts to worry that its use could eliminate the effectiveness of the drug and others like it, according to the News. The use of alternative drug regimens -- such as adding the antiretroviral drug zidovudine to nevirapine and providing the treatment over several weeks rather than in a one-time dose -- is "impossible" in Zambia because of the high cost of drugs, as well as the difficulty in providing extended treatment to women who wish to conceal their HIV-positive status from their husbands, according to the News (Parks , Birmingham News, 3/20).
- "Zambia state of mind": In its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia, CIDRZ "hosts a constant flow" of health professionals from the United States, who stay in a residential complex that is "an oasis in a desert of pain and poverty," according to the News. Despite the comfortable accommodations, these nurses and physicians struggle with the stress and "tough" psychology of working with "suffering and death," according to the News (Parks, Birmingham News, 3/21).
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