Computer giant helps U of M

By Peter Stein

Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approved a $17 million us grant for the University of Manitoba help fight aids in India. The donation was part of a $200 million us initiative by the Gates Foundation, the first of its kind in 2004, to help improve health standards in less fortunate countries around the world.

The U of M is using the money to accelerate and develop its work in preventing and reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS in India, specifically for the southern Indian state of Karnataka, through collaboration between the university and the state government.

“The Gates Foundation is very pleased to support the U of M’s efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in India,” said Helene D. Gayle, Director of the Gates Foundation’s HIV, TB and Reproductive Health program. “By applying proven HIV prevention strategies, the University of Manitoba will support the Karnataka state government and other implementing partners in limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Karnataka region, which will also help to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS across the country.”

hiv/aids has had a devastating impact on the region in recent years. In Karnataka, nearly two per cent of the adult population is currently living with HIV/AIDS, and compared to the Indian average of 0.8 per cent, a grant of this magnitude will go a long way toward fighting the epidemic.

By collaborating with state organizations, community groups and non-governmental organizations in the state, the U of M looks to create a wide-ranging and diverse plan to diminishing the transmission of hiv and other sexually transmitted infections.

Focal points for the program include peer-mediated hiv education programs which target high risk groups, communication programs promoting effective health services for HIV/AIDS and other STIs and improved health care services, including training for more qualified health care workers and outfitting clinics to properly help patients with STIs.

The grant by the Gates Foundation will help build on the work already being conducted in India by the U of M since 1997 with its part in designing the second phase of India’s National aids Prevention Program.

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