New internet resource facilitates international HIV/AIDS healthcare provider training

A major barrier to access to care for HIV/AIDS patients in resource limited settings—the lack of trained healthcare providers—is now eased with the launch of an internet-based clinical training resource database.

The Global HIV/AIDS Clinical Training Materials Database is produced by the International Training and Education Center on HIV/AIDS (I-TECH), a joint project of UCSF and the University of Washington.

“We are providing online the latest clinical training curricula specifically tailored for international settings, and in some cases individualized for particular countries, in easily accessible formats.  A facilitator can download these materials and immediately start training medical officers, nurses, pharmacists or other healthcare providers on how to care for and treat a person with HIV/AIDS,” said I-TECH co-director E. Michael Reyes, MD, MPH, UCSF associate professor of family and community medicine.

Launched in early October with initial funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the web-based database is located at http://www.go2itech.org/.  It is a compilation of clinical training materials from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration HIV/AIDS Bureau, the CDC, the World Health Organization and other partners of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), plus over 300 other multilateral, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations from around the world.  I-TECH will continue to update the database with new materials.

The resource database has been developed in collaboration with the UCSF Center for HIV Information (CHI), which has developed and maintains several websites. These include HIV InSite at http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu, an award-winning HIV/AIDS global information source on basic science, treatment, prevention and policy; http://whatudo.org, a youth-oriented site on HIV prevention and education; and http://aids-etc.org, AIDS Education and Training Centers National Resource Center site.

“People in poor countries desperately need AIDS treatment, but just sending drugs isn’t enough.  Treatment means knowing how to use the drugs, and that depends on factors that differ from one patient, one clinic, or one country to another,” said CHI’s director Laurence Peiperl, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCSF.

“For treatment programs to succeed, information needs to go hand in hand with the medications.  And why create new training materials from scratch in each location? With limited resources, it’s much more efficient to adapt what others have already created.  A cooperative, international database of HIV training materials on the internet can go a long way towards bridging the information gap,” he added.

I-TECH was established in 2002 as a collaborative effort between the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD, and UCSF.  King K. Holmes, MD, PhD, director of the Center for AIDS and STD and professor of medicine at the UW, is the principal investigator.

I-TECH is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration HIV/AIDS Bureau, in collaboration with the CDC’s Global AIDS Program.  I-TECH supports the ongoing development of health care worker training systems that are locally-determined, optimally resourced, highly responsive and self-sustaining in countries and regions hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic.

The UW Center for AIDS and STD was established in 1989 and designated a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for AIDS and STD in 1995.  It manages projects in Asia, Africa, Central and South America as well as maintaining cooperative agreements with governmental and non-governmental organizations, universities and hospitals located throughout the world.  The Center managed projects totaling approximately $29 million in FY03, including I-TECH, and is expected to administer more than $40 million in grants during FY04.  It is the largest clinical training program for AIDS and STD in the world.

The Center for HIV Information, a UCSF program, partners with government agencies, foundations, and international organizations to identify and develop information on HIV care, prevention, and policy. This information is disseminated to care providers, researchers, and policymakers nationally and worldwide through electronic media, including internet and CD-ROM. This Center develops strategies for reaching those areas and individuals in greatest need of high-quality, practical information on HIV/AIDS.

The Center is a component of UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute (ARI). UCSF ARI houses hundreds of scientists and dozens of programs throughout UCSF and affiliated labs and institutions, making ARI one of the largest HIV/AIDS research entities in the world.