ITALY - “FAMILIES FOR AFRICA”: UNESCO programme to reduce progression of AIDS in women of child bearing age and prevent HIV/AIDS mother/child infection birth and through breast feeding (Italy)

Saturday, 3 April 2004

Rome (Fides Service) - The “Families for Africa” project aims to address the serious threat of HIV/AIDS and its impact on families in West Africa. The project launched by UNESCO in July 2002, funded by the Italian government will last until December 2004 and it involved various international scientific institutions. It aims is to reduce progression of AIDS in fertility aged women and prevent HIV/AIDS mother/child infection birth and through breast-feeding.
The men who discovered the HIV/AIDS virus Prof. Montagnier (World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, Paris) and Prof. Gallo (Institute of Human Virology Baltimore University), collaborated with the Tor Vergata University in Rome (Prof. V. Colizzi) and the Children’s Hospital Bambino Gesu in Rome (Prof. P. Rossi and G. Castelli Gattinara), to produce a vaccine for the sub-type of HIV present in West Africa. The Saint Camille Hospital and the Chair for Molecule Genetics at Ouagadougou University (Burkina Faso) support the project to develop the vaccine. For a long time both institutions have collaborated in the medical-scientific field with Cooperazione Italiana. For example as part of WHO/Italy collaboration programme, Saint Camille Hospital has a programme for the prevention of HIV/AIDS mother/child infection giving nevirapina to mothers and babies.
The primary aim of the project is to produce a paediatric vaccine, organise short-term training programmes for local health care personnel, transfer of technology, promotion of research and development of information systems and information for families.
The governments of Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Ivory Coast are active collaborators. Missions will be opened to guarantee close collaboration with centres in Africa, Europe, Paris and Rome, and USA Baltimore. (AP/CG) (3/4/2004 Agenzia Fides)