LUKASA, Zambia, July 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Graduation ceremonies will be held Saturday, July 10th in Lukasa for 15 Zambian health care professionals from several districts throughout the country who have completed an educational training program administered by AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( ) (AHF). This will enable the graduates to train classes of HIV Medics to work in the country's growing fight against HIV/AIDS. Each graduate is currently a Clinical Officer working within the Ministry of Health. These dedicated practitioners have completed this course in hopes of improving their own skills and then being able to share those skills with lay professionals within their own communities to better serve the need of those living with HIV/AIDS. AHF's HIV Medic training program is an innovative approach by AHF to address the urgent human resource crisis and need for more AIDS care providers in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. This is the largest class of Training of Trainers - for the HIV Medics - that AHF has conducted in any country to date.

WHAT: Graduation of Clinical Officers - Training of Trainers for HIV Medics Program WHEN: Saturday, July 10th 2010 Time: 12:00 pm WHERE: Gonde Lodge, Chelstone, Lukasa, ZAMBIA WHO: Graduates of AHF's Training of Trainers program Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Maliwa, Zambian Ministry of Health, District AIDS Coordinator Mary Adair, PA-C, Director of Task Shifting Programs for AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Principal Instructor of the Training of Trainers program Dr. Chibale Sakala, Medical Director, AHF Zambia Hambweka S. Munkombwe, HIV Medic Program Coordinator

Each of these students will now be able to go back to their home regions of the country and conduct training classes to educate and expand the pool of HIV Medics working throughout Zambia, said Mary Adair, PA-C, Director of Task Shifting Programs for AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Principal Instructor of the Training of Trainers program. Over the past several years, AHF has worked closely with the Ministry of Health to sustain and adapt the HIV Medics program to the specific needs in Zambia. These graduates - many of whom have worked with HIV Medics in the past - will serve as Clinical Officers and be able to oversee and instruct classes of HIV Medics through their six weeks of classroom training and six weeks of training in the field. As a result, health care providers in Zambia will be able to care for more HIV/AIDS patients in a comprehensive, yet more cost effective manner.

HIV Medics are trained to take histories, perform limited physical examinations, and appropriately refer sick patients to the doctor. They are also taught to test for HIV/AIDS, assess patients for side effects, perform triage and vital signs, counsel on adherence to ART, and to educate about medications prescribed by the physician. The students receive six weeks of didactic lectures and six weeks of clinical clerkships. The first two weeks of clinical clerkships are in the classroom learning to assess patient histories, do basic physical examinations, and finger pricking skills. The remaining four weeks are spent on rotations at primary care, inpatient and community health care facilities. To date, AHF has conducted six HIV Medics training classes in countries including Uganda, Vietnam, India and Zambia.

AHF's first undertaking in Zambia came about in 2004 when it officially launched and dedicated the Salvation Army - AIDS Healthcare Foundation Muka Buumi (Mother of Life in Tonga) anti-retroviral therapy (ART) clinic at the Chikankata Hospital located in Mazabuka District, about two hours southwest of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Since then, AHF has conducted numerous HIV Medics training programs in the country, and has worked closely on projects with both the Zambian Ministry of Health, the Church Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) and other partners. At present, AHF-supported treatment clinics in Zambia are treating over 15,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

In the coming months, AHF will also open its first AHF-run AIDS treatment clinic in Zambia - in Lukasa, the capital, a move that will enable more Zambians to get medical care and access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.

HIV/AIDS in Zambia

Zambia has a national HIV prevalence rate of approximately 17 percent among adults ages 15 to 49. The primary modes of HIV transmission are through heterosexual sex and mother-to-child transmission. HIV prevalence rates vary considerably within the country. Infection rates are highest in cities and towns along major transportation routes and lower in rural areas with low population density. While Zambia's national prevalence rate remains high and shows no sign of declining, the country has been noted for its significant increases in antiretroviral treatment (ART) access.

With over one million Zambians living with HIV/AIDS and 200,000 of these persons requiring ART, the Government of the Republic of Zambia has prioritized making ART available to all Zambians in need. AHF's newly-trained Clinical Officers, and the HIV Medics they train and who will be deployed under medical supervision to assist in scaling-up ART services - may go a long way to help address this need for treatment in Zambia.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest global AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 138,000 individuals in 23 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe.

SOURCE: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

CONTACT: In Zambia: Mary Adair, PA-C, mobile: +1-323-791-9600, or Hambweka S. Munkombwe, mobile:+260-977-443197,; In the U.S.: GedKenslea, +1-323-308-1833, mobile +1-323-791-5526,