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HIV/AIDS in Mothers, Children Is Focus of Botswana Conference

A 4-day consultation to discuss HIV/AIDS research needs and opportunities was held recently in Botswana, Africa. More than 150 participants, including biomedical and social science researchers, health care providers, representatives of faith-based organizations and research funding agencies, and people living with HIV/AIDS gathered for the meeting, which was cochaired by NIH acting deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox and Dr. Ruth Nduati, a consultant pediatrician at the Kenyatta National Hospital, University of Nairobi.

The need for culturally appropriate education campaigns about prevention and treatment of the disease was among several key issues raised for future exploration. Also discussed was the need to ensure the safety and efficacy of anti-retroviral therapies, which are becoming more available in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fact that treatments and diagnostics considered "optimal" in the United States and other parts of the world may not be considered optimal in African conditions or among African citizens. In all, 28 plenary sessions and two scientific panels were convened.

In Botswana, Africa, for a 4-day consultation were (from l) Dr. Kenneth Bridbord, director of FIC's Division of International Training and Research; NIH acting deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox; and Dr. Jeanne McDermott, program director for AIDS, population, maternal and child health, FIC.

"I expect this collaborative effort marks the beginning of many fruitful initiatives between the DHHS agencies and our African partners," said Maddox.

The conference was sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development with support and participation from the Fogarty International Center, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also participated. NICHD has agreed to take a leadership role in the collaborative effort with African investigators and other interested organizations to help meet the research needs in Africa that were identified during the consultation.

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