Baltimore, MD – As President Bush has enforced five-year plan to treat 2 million person with HIV/AIDS, prevent 7 million new infections, and provide care and support for 10 million people living with HIV/AIDS with $15 billion of support, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) along with four other partnered health service organizations were awarded a $335 million grant on Feb. 23 by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the expansion of prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, CRS announced through their news release.
The partnership is shared by CRS, the University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) and the Futures Group, which work in conjunction to provide extensive HIV care and prevention. The grant will primarily be used to expand the delivery of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to HIV-infected persons in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.
With the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the decreasing cost of ART, and the administration’s effort to engage faith-based organizations, CRS reported that the organizations in partnership would be able to work effectively to fulfill the President’s vision into a reality.
“What is unique about this partnership,” said Ken Hackett, president of CRS, “is that it maximizes the Catholic and mainline Protestant health delivery systems, and the expertise of private institutions like the Institute of Human Virology and The Futures Group.”
Under the HRSA-funded initiative, the consortium’s five-year grant will aid 14,900 HIV/AIDS patients in the first year and will increase to 137,600 patients by year five. South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Haiti and Guyana, which are nine of the fourteen countries listed in President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, are the proposed recipient countries of ART therapy.
According to CRS, faith-based organizations have been reaching out to the people affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic and that now one-third to one-half of healthcare delivery in the developing world is done by faith-based organizations. Indeed they are closely linked to the cultural and social environments of the people being served.
While the main objective of the consortium is to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to ART and high quality medical care, the program will also support drug procurement and treatment.
According to Dr. Robert Redfield, associate director of the Institute of Human Virology, “The consortium will expand, on a sustainable basis, the provision of durable ART to the greatest number of needy patients. The program will be based on leading edge medical science, national protocols and programs, and cost-effective deployment of program resources.”