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University Hospital's pediatric AIDS center receives $1.2 million grant

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Pediatric Designated AIDS Center at University Hospital has received a 5-year, $1.2 million grant to allow the center to expand services and add additional staff to provide care to a greater number of children living with HIV.

In addition the AIDS center has been designated a "Center of Excellence in Pediatric and Adolescent HIV Care" from The AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health.

"Designation as a Center of Excellence allows us to further extend our services to include developmental-psychological testing, family therapy, nutritional services and child life services," said Leonard Weiner, M.D., medical director for pediatric infectious diseases and for the Center of Excellence in Pediatric and Adolescent HIV Care at University Hospital. "We will also have the capacity to strengthen our links with community resources, leading to the improved use of programs to meet the daily needs of our families."

Currently, in addition to Dr. Weiner, center staff includes three nurse practitioners, a social worker and three HIV physician specialists.

"The grant will also support the creation of a satellite clinic in Binghamton, giving our patients in that area more convenient and accessible health care," said nurse practitioner Kathie Contello,. "Our regular presence in the community will improve our communication with local obstetrical care and other HIV care providers and improve coordination of care for exposed infants."

The grant also provides for a new, expanded facility within the hospital that is more appropriate for the center's adolescent patients; 24-hour pediatric HIV physician coverage; and clinicians to help young patients transition to adult service.

University Hospital's Center for Excellence in Pediatric and Adolescent HIV Care has served children and their families with HIV in a 17-county area for more than 14 years. The center's target populations include HIV-exposed infants born to HIV-positive mothers; children with HIV infection; and adolescents who acquire HIV infection through high-risk behavior. More than 70 infants, children and adolescents receive care each year through the center.

Centers of Excellence in Pediatric HIV Care were established statewide in 2003 to serve HIV-infected children, including HIV-exposed infants and adolescents in geographic areas where access to youth-oriented specialized HIV health care programs is limited. They are designed to meet the complex medical management and unique psychosocial and educational support needs of these children as they grow and develop while living with HIV.

In addition, they offer multicultural, multidisciplinary teams of experienced providers that include one or more pediatric HIV specialists, provide a continuum of care that includes prompt access to pediatric sub-specialists, home health care programs and tertiary care centers with experience in treating children with HIV and continuous support to family members in their caregiver roles.