Pediatric AIDS Corps Gaining Attention at TIME Global Health Summit
The Pediatric AIDS Corps, a program of Baylor College of Medicine and pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, is set to receive international recognition at the TIME Global Health Summit, which starts on Tuesday in New York City, the Houston Chronicle reports (Hopper, Houston Chronicle, 10/31). Baylor and BMS in June launched the $40 million program to treat children living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Under the initiative, which is part of the drug maker's Secure the Future program, Baylor and BMS will send as many as 250 physicians to Africa for a two-year program to train local health care workers and treat HIV-positive children. Baylor will contribute approximately $10 million to the program to pay up to $40,000 per person in student loans for participating doctors. BMS will contribute $30 million to the initiative, a portion of which will be used to pay each participating doctor an annual stipend of $30,000 plus living expenses. BMS also will reduce the price of pediatric formulations of its antiretroviral drugs Zerit and Videx in developing countries. In addition, the company is building four children's clinics -- two in Africa and two in non-African countries highly affected by HIV/AIDS -- with clinics in Uganda and Burkina Faso expected to open in the summer of 2006, and clinics in Russia and China being considered (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27). The Pediatric AIDS Corps' first class of 33 physicians plans to deploy in August 2006 for assignments of up to two years to treat children in six African countries. Mark Kline, founder and president of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, is expected to speak about the program at the summit (Houston Chronicle, 10/31).
The Pediatric AIDS Corps is the "medical equivalent of a commando unit," and the intiative's physicians will be "dedicating the next year of their lives to a unique program designed to confront head-on what many consider to be the most formidable health crisis of our generation -- HIV/AIDS," BMS CEO Peter Dolan writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Nearly 36 pediatricians have signed on to join the AIDS corps and "soon all openings funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb will be filled," Dolan writes, adding that other companies, organizations and academic institutions are invited to help expand the program by sponsoring other physicians. "The Pediatric AIDS Corps is not the complete answer to the critical shortage of health care professionals in Africa, but it is an important bridge to the time when enough Africans are trained in HIV management to effectively help the many children infected with the disease," Dolan writes(Dolan, Wall Street Journal, 11/1).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the press conference talking about the program will be available online by 5 p.m. ET. Other sessions from the conference will be webcast live. Additional information is available online.