Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 11, 2009

Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, the U.S. Department of State Special Representative for Global Partnerships, and Gary M. Cohen, Executive Vice President of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), today signed a memorandum of understanding launching an initiative to help protect the health of healthcare personnel and patients in African countries. Through this partnership, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will work with BD, a leading global medical technology company, to improve blood collection safety in clinics and hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa.

In recent years, safer blood collection has become more critical than ever in sub-Saharan nations and other developing countries severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Access to HIV treatment in developing countries has significantly increased in recent years, which in turn has expanded the quantity of blood drawing for HIV screening and monitoring tests

The three-year initiative -- which may be extended up to two additional years -- is scheduled to begin in October in Kenya and expand to include up to four additional PEPFAR-supported countries. It will ultimately support in-service training for as many as 10,000 healthcare workers. When fully implemented, the monitoring component of the initiative aims to track as many as two million blood draws within each participating country.

The program will help hospital and clinical personnel improve their blood-drawing procedures and specimen handling, processes that are critical to the proper management of HIV/AIDS patients. The initiative will also work to control exposure to the virus among health workers by providing post-exposure prophylaxis. In addition, the program will help prevent needle stick injuries by establishing or enhancing needle stick injury surveillance. These monitoring measures can identify practices that pose risks to health workers and patients.

Reflecting PEPFAR's focus on empowering developing nations in the battle against HIV/AIDS, Ministries of Health in participating countries will take the lead in developing individualized policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures for blood drawing and specimen handling. As part of their collaboration, PEPFAR and BD will work on the ground with Ministries of Health, national reference laboratories and various implementing partners.

PRN: 2009/819