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Foundation Donates $2.5 Million to AIDS Research

To address the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa, especially among women and children, The Oak Foundation has donated $2.5 million to the Harvard AIDS Institute, the institute announced yesterday.

The institute, which is based at the School of Public Health (SPH), will use the grant to support research work and training in order to help fight the AIDS virus worldwide, according to Assistant Dean for Development at SPH Kristine Laping.

The institute will use the money to fund a three-year program devoted to basic research, vaccine development and treatments to block mother-to-infant transmission of HIV, he virus that causes AIDS. The money will also fund a program to train AIDS researchers from southern Africa, which has been hit especially hard by AIDS, according to an Oak Institute press release.

HIV strikes between one-fifth and one-quarter of people between the ages of 15 and 49 in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, according to the release, and South Africa is home to one in every 10 new HIV infections.

Since its inception in 1988, the institute has worked with researchers in Senegal to combat the AIDS virus in Africa.

Laping said the Oak Foundation, an international philanthropy organization, gave the institute the grant because of its interest in children's issues.

The part of the institute's program that will test and improve drug treatments for block mother-to-infant transmission of HIV is especially appealing to the foundation, Laping said.

"[The Oak Foundation] found the project worthwhile and [that it will] have an impact on the part of the world they care about," Laping said. "The project was a good fit with their interests."

Laping said the institute will use the research to examine the structure of HIV.

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