HADASSAH AIDS TEAM MAKING STRIDES AGAINST THE DISEASE IN ETHIOPIA: Also provides help to Israel’s AIDS patients
An Israeli AIDS team has made recent strides against the disease in Ethiopia, according to Prof. Shlomo Ma’ayan, head of the Hadassah AIDS Center in Jerusalem. Working in conjunction with the Black Lion Hospital’s Tekel Hymanot clinic in Addis Ababa, the medical team was able to significantly reduce the level of the HIV/AIDS virus in patients’ genital secretions by administering antibiotic treatment to patients with STD, or sexually transmitted diseases.
According to Prof. Ma’ayan, HIV positive women, who also suffer from STD and received appropriate treatment for STD, showed lower levels of the HIV/AIDS virus in their genital secretions. “The implications of this research may be far-reaching, suggesting that simple and inexpensive antibiotic treatment may have an impact on curtailing the sexual spread of HIV/AIDS.” Prof. Ma’ayan’s team member, Dr. Dawit Wolday, reported on these findings at the World AIDS Conference in Barcelona this summer.Prof. Ma’ayan added that these findings have to be confirmed in a much larger study.
Lowering the HIV level in the community by simple means may have a positive impact on HIV transmission, he said.In addition to Prof. Ma’ayan’s work with the Tekel Hymanot Clinic in Addis Ababa, he runs the Hadassah AIDS Clinic, Jerusalem’s only walk-in AIDS facility, where patients are both tested for the HIV/AIDS virus and receive the HAART protocol, highly active anti-viral treatment, when needed. He works with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, social workers and bi-lingual (Amharic-Hebrew) cultural mediators to administer the best and most humane care.Of the 3,000 AIDS patients in Israel, 60 percent are Ethiopian. According to Prof. Ma’ayan, there are more women patients than men. In another study, run in collaboration with Duke University and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the exact strain of HIV/AIDS virus that circulates in Ethiopia and among Ethiopian immigrants to Israel has been identified and the immune response to it exactly mapped. This work was done as part of an effort to develop a vaccine against HIV/AIDS.
Prof. Ma’ayan, an infectious disease specialist, first became acquainted with Africa when he served at the Israel military hospital in Ruanda during that country’s civil war in 1994.
Since 1959, the Hadassah Medical Organization has been active in Africa. In fact, every ophthalmology resident trained at Hadassah must make a commitment to work in Africa for a minimum of two years.
In addition, doctors and nurses, who are graduates of the Braun Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, are working throughout their home countries in Africa. To date, the most ambitious enterprise in Hadassah’s long history of medical aid to Africa and the Third World was its participation during the 1980s in the building, equipping and staffing of the Kimbanguist Hospital in Kinshasa, Zaire.