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New Partnership will Help Distribute Pain Meds to HIV-Positive People in Swaziland

Update Date: Jul 29, 2014 10:05 AM EDT

Even though the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a highly manageable infection due to advances in medication, many HIV-infected people still do not have easy access to certain types of drugs, such as pain medications. Now, a new partnership aims to improve access to pain medications for HIV-infected people living in Swaziland. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has teamed up with the American Cancer Society (ACS) with the goal of finding ways to integrate pain management treatment at HIV/AIDS service centers throughout the country.

"Pain management is an important, but often overlooked part of comprehensive HIV care and treatment services," said Mohammed Ali Mahdi, M.D., M.P.H., EGPAF's country director for Swaziland according to the press release. "Our partnership with ACS will strengthen EGPAF's efforts to support comprehensive HIV services and ensure that people infected with HIV have greater access to pain medications that can help improve their quality of life."

This partnership will focus on improving care in Swaziland, the nation with the highest prevalence of HIV. More than 26 percent of the people between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with the virus. The EGPAF will also work with the Swaziland Ministry of Health (MOH) to incorporate pain management care into existing facilities throughout four different regions of the country. A physician from the EGPAF will join the MOH's team within the Swaziland National AIDS Program (SNAP) and offer technical assistance combined with training at these medical centers.

Furthermore, the EGPAF aims to connect the MOH and SNAP programs to other HIV service providers. By creating a larger network, the EGPAF hopes to increase awareness about HIV and HIV-related pain management throughout the communities.

"More than 3.2 billion people worldwide lack access to adequate pain treatment even though morphine, which is the most effective treatment for severe pain, is safe, effective, plentiful, inexpensive and easy-to-use," said Meg O'Brien, M.D., ACS managing director for global cancer treatment. "Treat the Pain is very pleased to embark on this new partnership with EGPAF to address the crisis of untreated pain in Swaziland so that we can help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for people living with HIV and, in many cases, opportunistic cancer."

The partnership will last for two years with the option of extending it at the end of the contract.

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