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A McGill University program that combats mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Zimbabwe got a $2.5-million funding injection from the federal government on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.
The boost to McGill's initiative was part of $120 million in new funding the Harper government announced that day for the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
The McGill funding will help the valuable work being done by Dr. Brian Ward, chief of McGill's Division of Infectious Diseases, at 14 hospitals in Zimbabwe. The program incorporates mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention into the hospitals' maternal and child health programs.
Dr. Ward's project is but one of the many contributions McGill has made to this fight since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, starting with Dr. Mark Wainberg's discovery in 1989 of the antiviral capabilities of the 3TC structure, used in antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV infection.
Dr. Wainberg, who co-chaired the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August, said of the new federal funding,"We are delighted that the Canadian government has chosen to renew funding for this effort. The government should also be applauded for recognizing the urgency of this problem in Zimbabwe, a country that continues to be devastated by civil unrest and instability."
Though Zimbabwe is particularly hard-hit by the scourge of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Ward's efforts have great potential to improve the situation, Dr. Wainberg said. "The McGill project has great potential to impact on the problem of HIV transmission and will hopefully be shown to make an important difference in coming years," Dr. Wainberg said.
Dr. Ward established the program in 2003. He also heads a research project on the effects of vitamin A on HIV infection in mothers and their babies in Zimbabwe.