Catholic News Agency (02.12.2014)
The Catholic News Agency reported that the Catholic Church’s Good Samaritan Foundation and California’s Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company, would partner to provide free HIV testing and antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for people of the Shinyanga, Tanzania diocese. The launch of the five-year “Test and Treat” project coincided with the 22nd World Day of the Sick on February 11. The project would consist of four steps: support for those already working to eliminate HIV in Shinyanga; specialist training for social and healthcare workers; educational programs for the district’s communities; and improved nutritional programs for HIV-positive children.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, stated that the project anticipated identifying 20,000 new HIV cases among Shinyanga District’s 120,000 people, based on the extent of the “pandemic” in northern Tanzania. Zimowski confirmed that HIV-positive individuals identified through testing would have immediate access to free ARV treatment. Another project benefit would be the prevention of HIV transmission from HIV-positive pregnant women to their babies. The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers oversaw the Good Samaritan Foundation.
Gregg Alton, Gilead’s executive vice president of corporate and medical affairs, hoped that the Test and Treat program could become a model for HIV diagnosis and treatment programs in economically disadvantaged countries. Zimowski emphasized that the project, which fulfilled the church’s mission to “go, teach, and heal the sick,” would address the “moral and hygienic training of the people” and would support orphans and “the weakest” first.