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January 27, 2011

Notes from the African Continent: 2010-2011

“Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world. An estimated 22.5 million people are living with HIV in the region - around two thirds of the global total. In 2009 around 1.3 million people died from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.8 million people became infected with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.” - UNAIDS (2010) 'UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic’


There have been many efforts and foundations established across the world to help lower these horrible HIV/AIDs statistics. We at EmpiriStat are proud to say that Dr. Nicole Close and Mr. Devin Hunt took us all one step closer to helping the world reach greatness by teaching those in areas of need the foundations to achieve success, particularly in the field of HIV Research. They went right to ground level, starting where research needs to start, in the hands of those who are heavily affected each day.


In January 2011, Dr. Close and Mr. Hunt embarked on their final journey to Africa to complete their work as educators for the EmpiriStat created Research Capacity Building Training Series 101. This clinical training program provided practical experience in the field, and hands on education to doctors, nurses, clinicians, and other health care providers who participate or are interested in HIV research and development. Their tour began in early August, 2010- and it took them to Kampala, Uganda; Kericho, Kenya, and Mbeya, Tanzania. Abuja, Nigeria was their last stop, cumulating 5 months later to close several months of hard work and collaboration with the United States and African researchers and military associates.


Funded by the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR), Series 101 Training was comprised of a four day hands-on course in each African city that provided participants the background and essentials of Epidemiology, Clinical Data Management, Clinical Trial Foundations, and Statistics for Non-Statisticians. Participants were able to receive a valuable education and the tools necessary to design a clinical trial, generate data reports and provide scientific critique of research. The course also taught attendees how to develop work-plans and standard operating procedures to ensure the safety of study subjects during a clinical trial.


In total, over 130 civilian and military personnel have been trained in Africa to initiate, conduct, and analyze research by the hand and heart of EmpiriStat. At the conclusion of their weeklong session, and at their last African site in Nigeria, Dr. Close and Mr. Hunt were awarded a beautiful plaque to honor their hard work and success of the workshop by the Brigadier General of the Nigerian Ministry of Defense (NMOD), a very high and prestigious honor, indeed. With the conclusion of Series 101 we hope to have made an impact that will take humanity one step closer to the battlefield that is HIV/AIDs. One day, with continuous commitment to research and education, we will win.

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