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[July 10, 2008]

DOWNSTATE PARTNERS WITH SOUTH AFRICAN AIDS PROGRAM

SUNY Downstate’s HIV Center for Women and Children has received a grant for $160,000 from the American International Health Alliance to establish a “twinning partnership” with the Centre for Health Systems Research & Development at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The grant is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

The partnership is intended to strengthen HIV and tuberculosis (TB) research projects in the Free State. Of the 2.9 million people living in the South African province, an estimated 31 percent have tested positive for HIV. The Free State has the third highest rate of HIV infection among the country’s nine provinces. 

The University of the Free State’s Christo Heunis, PhD, and Nandi Jacobs, MS, visited Downstate recently to report on the progress being made against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in South Africa. At a special lecture attended by SUNY Downstate healthcare professionals, Dr. Heunis noted that while the South African government makes anti-HIV medications available, there are still obstacles to getting the drugs to many of the people who need them

Earlier this year, Jack DeHovitz, MD, director of the HIV Center for Women and Children, visited the University of the Free State, as well as the Free State’s Department of Health, to get a clearer picture of HIV and TB epidemiology, care, and prevention programs and current research goals for the region.

“Currently, three University of Free State faculty members are in the United States to receive training and technical assistance in epidemiology and research design,” said Dr. DeHovitz. “We look forward to continuing this valuable collaboration.”

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SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a Graduate Public Health Program, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks seventh nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.