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Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Receives $43 Million Federal Grant

Monday, July 09, 2007

 Dr. Robert Gallo and his staff at the Institute of Human Virology are trying to make inroads against the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV) has received a $43 million grant from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The funding will be used to further IHV’s AIDS Care and Treatment in Nigeria (ACTION) project by providing immediate care and treatment to 48,000 patients and expanding HIV-testing and counseling to an additional 100,000 Nigerians over the next year. Nigeria ranks third in the world for total number of persons infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

"The work being done now in Nigeria is extraordinary," says Robert C. Gallo, M.D., the founder and director of IHV, who co-discovered HIV and developed the first HIV blood test. "This new award enables us to reach even more people who need the care and treatment provided by our institute’s experts. We are very proud of our Nigerian staff and of Dr. [William] Blattner, who directs ACTION," says Dr. Gallo, who is also professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
ACTION provides quality care and the latest treatments to people living with HIV/AIDS. It focuses on antiretroviral therapy and the development of patient care support activities. ACTION also emphasizes the need for patients to adhere to instructions for taking their medications and relies on partnerships with established medical clinics in Nigeria. These strategies have already helped Nigeria develop its own expertise in providing long-term solutions to the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"In Nigeria, the lives of more than 500,000 people who need immediate treatment depend on the dedication of the IHV team that works tirelessly to expand services," says William A. Blattner, M.D., principal investigator for the project, co-founder and associate director of IHV and director of the institute’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention. "Seeing the patients who have returned to healthy lives inspires our staff to continually adapt innovative strategies," says Dr. Blattner, who is also a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Begun in 2003, ACTION has achieved a balance of rapid expansion and excellent medical care by focusing on quality. The team works alongside Nigerian colleagues at treatment sites throughout Nigeria and employs a model that links the community to care. Since its inception, ACTION has placed more than 30,000 Nigerians on therapy, has provided more than 38,000 pregnant women with HIV preventive services, has tested more than 84,000 Nigerians for HIV, and has given basic care and support to more than 40,000, including nearly 5,000 children.
"The School of Medicine is proud to embrace the work of the Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria and around the world. Such a program ties the citizens of Baltimore to a worldwide community that demands the best of medical care exemplified by the mission of the school," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland and dean of the School of Medicine.

IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. For more information, visit www.ihv.org. For further information on ACTION, visit www.actionnigeria.org. For more information on PEPFAR, visit www.pepfar.gov.

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