Hawaiian, Vietnamese Researchers Form Partnership To Train Physicians, Study HIV/AIDS Treatments
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin recently published two articles examining partnerships formed between HIV/AIDS researchers from Hawaii and Vietnam. The Kaiser Family Foundation's Media Fellowship Program supported these reports as part of the International Health Journalism Fellowship Project. Summaries appear below.
- Physician training: As part of a partnership between researchers in Vietnam and Hawaii, 16 Vietnamese physicians recently traveled to Hawaii and Bangkok to learn HIV treatment protocols, the Star-Bulletin reports. The Vietnamese physicians also will provide the same training for other health care providers in the country. Cecilia Shikuma, a physician and professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, and Tuan Huynh -- medical lecturer at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- are spearheading the project. Shikuma plans to visit Vietnam twice each year to update physicians on new developments in HIV/AIDS treatment and consult on cases, the Star-Bulletin reports. Currently, she works with military physicians in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to provide information about HIV drug usage and possible side effects. Tanya Do, acting program manager in Vietnam for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said the U.S. government is helping to build and equip four blood screening labs in Vietnam. The government will train health staff for the centers, provide training on HIV prevention for members of the Vietnamese military, collaborate with the Vietnamese government to reduce HIV-associated stigma, and help establish voluntary testing and counseling centers in Vietnam. In addition, Hawaii's Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance this year will provide HIV/AIDS training for Vietnamese border guards (Gima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 3/8).
- Treatment research: The University of Hawaii, the University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City recently established a partnership to develop capacity for researching HIV/AIDS treatments, the Star-Bulletin reports. Thuy Le, a Vietnamese-American physician and professor at the University of Hawaii's medical school, will coordinate the project, called the South East Asian Research Collaboration with Hawaii, or SEARCH Vietnam. Le said Vietnamese physicians have few difficulties conducting research but are less familiar with clinical trial protocols and grant writing skills. She said the project will "help build HIV clinical research capacity" in Vietnam, which "really needs" more medicines and further drug research. According to the Star-Bulletin, the University of Hawaii plans to study treatments for both HIV and hepatitis in Vietnam. In addition, the project will build on the university's existing research efforts in Thailand, led by Shikuma. For her research, Shikuma partnered with the Thai Red Cross and U.S. military physicians to study the relationship between HIV/AIDS and dementia and possible treatments for the conditions. The results of the study will be published this month, she said (Gima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 3/9).