Dr. Jacqueline Gautier and Fr. Rick Frechette were pleased to welcome US Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson, Chandra Baier, PEPFAR (Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Coordinator, and their team for a visit of the St. Damien Hospital Public Health and HIV programs.
In 2003, President Bush launched the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to combat global HIV/AIDS. Currently NPFS is receiving a grant of $450,000 in collaborating with I-TECH, International Training and Education Center on HIV.
I-TECH provides development and guidelines for prevention, care and treatment efforts. Goals are to scale up anti-retrovirals, reduce stigma, and provide educational materials. There are 136 children who fit the criteria to receive anti-retrovirals and another 164
benefiting from the program in other areas. Many of the population are referred from the outpatient clinic at the hospital. The staff supporting this program are 17 employees, including physicians, field agents, psychologists, pharmacists and administrative support.
Dr. Gautier is the director of the Public Health program and has been working with NPFS since 1993. Every fiscal year, Dr. Gautier re-applies for the PEPFAR grant, which has increased each year based on the tremendous need. The participants in these programs pay a symbolic fee, such as $5 for their entire pregnancy care. Since there has been such growth in the programs, the second floor of the Public Health building is being refurbished for the HIV programs and bottom will be used for general Public Health.
Ambassador Sanderson and her group were given a tour of the Hope for Haiti building where our HIV program is located on the hospital grounds and saw the program in action on a typical day. During the tour of the entire hospital Ambassador Sanderson also stopped into the counseling center and sat for an HIV test. Many of the hospital staff were pleased to meet Ambassador Sanderson and speak with her about the work we are doing at St. Damien. We would like to thank Ambassador Sanderson, Chandra and all our guests for visiting with us!