The Univ of Manitoba’s status as a leader in infectious diseases research received a major boost with the awarding of a US$17-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The award will allow university researchers to expand their work on HIV/AIDS in India. The Univ of Manitoba is collaborating with the state of Karnataka, where 500,000 people out of a population of 55 million are infected with HIV/AIDS.
The goal is to focus on the most vulnerable segments of the population such as sex workers, their clients and men in other high risk categories. Project members will work with state organizations, community groups and non-governmental organizations to develop a comprehensive prevention strategy.
The Univ of Manitoba initiated its India project in 1997 in collaboration with the World Bank and the Government of India. In 2001, it launched its IndiaCanada Collaborative HIV/AIDS Project with the support of a five-year, $12.7-million grant from the Canadian International Development Agency. It focusses on prevention and control programs in Karnataka and Rajasthan.
The latest Karnataka project will be led by Dr James Blanchard, associate professor with the Univ of Manitoba’s department of community health sciences. The team will include infectious disease experts and social scientists from the university.
The Gates Foundation award is part of its US$200-million commitment to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in India. The Gates Foundation previously made a US$1-million grant to the university to support its project in Kenya to fight the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It will support the university’s work in collaboration with the Univ of Nairobi to prevent the transmission of STIs/HIV among commercial sex workers and their clients
The Univ of Manitoba launched its Kenyan project in Nairobi in 1980, assisting in the dramatic reduction of STIs.
The Gates Foundation is founded on a US$26-billion endowment, making it one of the largest supporters of research in the world.