Healing Zambia

See how Donald Thea plans to end HIV transmission in Zambia.

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Donald Thea calls it the culmination of his career. The chance to wipe out mother-to-child transmission of AIDS in the largest province in Zambia, and hopefully beyond.

The infectious disease physician and professor of international health has just wrapped up an application for a $40 million follow-on grant to his current HIV-research efforts with the Centers for Disease Control. He has spent much of his career identifying factors that prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

“This takes things to another level. Over five years, we will be tasked to eliminate mother-to-child transmission in an area of Zambia where about 14 percent of women who become pregnant find themselves HIV-infected. We have the tools and ability.”

Such a statement would have been crazy talk 15 or even 10 years ago, Thea says. “I was an intern on the wards in New York City in 1981, the very month that the first report came out from Los Angeles about HIV. I saw all these gay men and drug users getting sick. That’s what started me on this career.”