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Swaziland: AHF Partners in New Free AIDS Treatment Clinic in Manzini
Date:9/24/2007

US' Largest AIDS Group Joins Forces with AMICAALL and FLAS, PSI, the Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Swaziland and the Manzini City Council in Partnership to Provide Life-saving Anti-retroviral AIDS Therapy at New Free

Treatment Center

MANZINI, SWAZILAND and LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), has joined together with AMICAALL (The Alliance of Mayors Initiative for Community Action on AIDS at the Local Level) and FLAS (Family Life Association of Swaziland), two respected local non- governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS services, including lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment (ART), at a new free clinic at the LaMvelase Help Centre in Manzini, AHF's first site in Swaziland. Other partners include the Kingdom of Swaziland's Ministry of Health (MOH), PSI (Population Services International), and the Manzini City Council. Swaziland, which has the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, 33.4 percent of adults aged between 15 and 49 are HIV positive, has limited HIV/AIDS and ART services. Before the opening of LaMvelase Help Centre, Manzini, the largest city in Swaziland, had only one hospital providing ART.

"I am very pleased to announce that we treated our first patients -- and began delivering lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment -- in the Kingdom of Swaziland at the LaMvelase Help Centre," said Bernard Okongo, MD, Africa Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest US-based AIDS organization which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Central America and Asia. "We are partnering with AMICAALL and FLAS, PSI, the Ministry of Health and the Manzini City Council in this lifesaving collaboration, and we are honored to work together to bring AIDS treatment and care to many of those in need in Swaziland."

"This partnership brings together many respected stakeholders with the expertise and clinical, public health and management skills that are essential for any successful HIV treatment program," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "We look forward to working closely with our distinguished partners in Swaziland in the fight against AIDS at this new site in Manzini, and to helping scale up the delivery of antiretroviral treatment throughout Swaziland."

"The LaMvelase Help Centre will provide the full continuum of integrated HIV/AIDS services. People can come to the clinic for free confidential HIV/AIDS testing and counseling and, if needed, receive appropriate and high- quality HIV/AIDS care and treatment at no cost to them," added Dr. Ndilikazi Buhlungu, Country Program Manager for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "In our family care model, we encourage parents to bring their children and husbands and wives to come together. The strong partnership between the NGO partners will ensure that all people who visit the clinic receive the best possible care."

"AHF's strategy in this newest global treatment center will be to provide support and technical assistance to ensure the highest quality of care to patients at this new facility in Swaziland," added Henry E. Chang, Chief of Global Affairs for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "This includes the training and capacitating of local medical staff to provide the highest quality care and treatment to those in need, a key to the success of all of AHF's global ART delivery programs. AHF will also work in close cooperation with AMICAALL, FLAS and the Ministry of Health to ensure our treatment goals and objectives are achieved."

HIV/AIDS in Swaziland

In 2004, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS Stephen Lewis announced that Swaziland had recorded the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence, surpassing nearby Botswana (Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily HIV/AIDS Report, March 22, 2004). The country of roughly one million people had a prevalence rate of approximately 33.4%. There is also significant prevalence of HIV and TB co- infection, with 80% of people with TB also co-infected with HIV. Swaziland's epidemic has been fueled in part by poverty, unemployment, a large and mobile migrant population, conservative religious and traditional beliefs against condom use and frequent multiple sexual partners. It is estimated that 30,000 individuals may be in immediate need of treatment and, as of September 2006, only 15,000 people were on ART.

The government of Swaziland has demonstrated a high level of political commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Swaziland National AIDS Program was established in 1987. In 1999, the King of Swaziland declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster and established an HIV/AIDS Cabinet Committee to coordinate the country's response to its epidemic.

Given the enormous need for the delivery of lifesaving ART throughout Swaziland, it is expected that the AIDS treatment clinic at LaMvelase Help Centre in Manzini will scale up the number of patients on HIV/AIDS treatment and care very quickly.

About FLAS

The Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS), a not-for-profit making Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), is the largest and leading organization in the provision of innovative sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. It plays a complementary role to the activities of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH&SW). It also advocates for the reproductive health rights of all people in the reproductive age.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the US' largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. In California, AHF operates the largest non-government HIV testing program, which conducts more than 15,000 HIV tests annually. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 61,000 individuals in 15 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at http://www.aidshealth.org

Media Contact: Ged Kenslea

Telephone: (323) 860-5225, Mobile: (323) 791-5523

E-Mail: gedk@aidshealth.org

Alternate Media Contact: Lori Yeghiayan

Telephone: (323) 860-5227, Mobile: (323) 377-4312

E-Mail: lori.yeghiayan@aidshealth.org


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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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