"Women, Children, and HIV" educational CD-ROM to be distributed at international aids conference

By Joan Aragone

With the aim of reaching the thousands of health care workers in developing countries who do not have ready access to the Internet, a CD-ROM containing the latest information on HIV/AIDS will be disseminated to the 19,000 delegates attending the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok in July.

The CD-ROM, prepared by the UCSF Center for HIV Information, is the third and latest edition of “Women, Children, and HIV: Resources for Prevention and Treatment,” a leading information resource for international care providers, researchers, and policy makers focusing on mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It includes most of the information that is already available on the Web site http://WomenChildrenHIV.org, another Center project.

“We developed the CD-ROM out of need,” said Arthur Ammann, MD, UCSF adjunct professor of pediatrics and a medical editor on the project. “Researchers in the developing world realized that Internet access was not available in rural areas. It was too expensive, and where it was available, time access was very limited.”

The need for such information is great, Ammann said. In 2003, almost 62 percent of AIDS patients were women, most of them in developing countries.

The CD-ROM, a compilation of the latest information on HIV and AIDS, including treatments, drugs and standards of care, provides data from a variety of countries, allowing healthcare workers to learn from best practices in other regions. There are training modules for medical practitioners, a library of treatment guidelines and research articles, and templates of educational brochures and posters designed for patients and communities. The CD-ROM contains approximately 5,000 pages of text, selected from a variety of sources.

“To have the CD-ROM included in the registration packet is a coup,” said Wendy Winkler, associate director of the Center, which is within the UCSF Department of Medicine. “That means every delegate—health care professionals, local practitioners, policy makers and program planners in the HIV-AIDS community—will receive this tool.”

Originally targeted at healthcare professionals, 800 copies of the first edition of the CD-ROM were distributed in Uganda in 2001 at a conference for program directors who carried it to their communities where it was used for education and training. The following year, 15,000 delegates to the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona took home a copy of the second edition. Anticipating increased demand, CHI has printed 35,000 of the third edition.

“It’s now in more than 50 countries and all kinds of organizations,” Ammann said. “We get requests from non-governmental organizations, health ministries, advocacy organizations, writers, journalists.” A physician in Cape Town is giving copies to rural healthcare workers. Medical schools in Africa use it to train students.

With content produced by UCSF faculty and a group of international editors who prepared country-specific standards of care, the CD-ROM was edited and produced by Center staff members at the Center, which is based at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. It is distributed free of charge.

The UCSF Center for HIV Information began in 1997, with the launch of the Web site HIV InSite, to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS through access to information. Today, the Center manages nine projects, including the CD-ROM on mother-to-child transmission. Laurence Peiperl, MD, UCSF assistant clinical professor of medicine, directs the Center. Paul Volberding, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and chief of medical service at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, established HIV InSite and remains active in the Center’s leadership. Ammann is also president of Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to preventing parent-to-child transmission of HIV. Global Strategies is a collaborator with the Center for HIV in producing the CD-ROM.