A new partnership between the Good Samaritan Foundation and Gilead Sciences will provide free HIV and AIDS testing in the diocese of Shinyanga, Tanzania as well as those who test positive.
“'The Test and Treat Project' is indeed an important result of the work
engaged in by the Good Samaritan Foundation and by our Pontifical
Council,” Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski said in a Feb. 11 press release
announcing the initiative.
It fulfills “the mission of the Church…which Jesus himself gave as a
mandate: Euntes docete et curate infirmos,” or “'go, teach and heal the
sick,'” he said, quoting the Gospel of Matthew.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski is the president of the Pontifical Council
for Health Care Workers, which oversees the Samaritan Foundation, an
organization dedicated to training nurses on proper healthcare.
With their agreement with Gilead Sciences – a California research-based
biopharmaceutical company seeking to discover, develop and commercialize
innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need – access to free
testing for HIV, and if necessary to antiretroviral therapies for about
120,000 residents of the District of Shinyanga (Mwanza, Tanzania), will
now be available.
Called “Test & Treat,” the five-year project was presented yesterday
to coincide with the 22nd World Day of the Sick, and in addition to the
medical aspects, both the moral and hygienic training of the people
will be included, as well as support for the “weakest,” beginning with
Following a specific plan of action, the project includes four specific
steps, the first being to offer support to those who are already working
to treat the HIV virus in Shinyanga.
After this support is given, they plan to develop specialist training
programs for the social and health-care personnel involved, organize
educational programs the communities for the district, and strengthen
initiatives that involve help “at the level of alimentation for
“On the basis of the statistics relating to the spread of the HIV/AIDS
pandemic in the north of Tanzania, it is estimated that about 20,000
people of those who will have free clinical analyses…will,
unfortunately, be HIV-positive,” Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski explained.
“However, they will immediately be able to have access, again without any charge, to the antiretroviral drugs that they need.”
Explaining the process of treatment for those who test positive for the
virus, Archbishop Zimowski noted that first they will be made “aware of
their condition,” and assured of “a life expectancy of another thirty
years or more.”
It will also “enable expectant women to avoid the transmission of the virus to their unborn children,” he noted.
Gregg Alton, Gilead’s executive vice president of Corporate and Medical
Affairs, observed in the press release that in the future, this
initiative could become “a point of reference for all future programs
for the diagnosis and treatment of the virus and its correlated
illnesses in economically disadvantaged countries.”
“We are very happy to be able to work with the Good Samaritan
Foundation,” Alton expressed, “because we know about its pioneering
courage in providing care and treatment to the victims of HIV/AIDS.”