Faculty member helps improve care for children with HIV/AIDS

The Eastern European nation of Ukraine has made enormous strides since it became independent in 1991. Still, it faces significant challenges, among them that of providing appropriate care for thousands of infants and children with HIV/AIDS.

To help improve the care received by HIV-infected Ukrainian youngsters, faculty member Joseph De Santis, Ph.D., A.R.N.P., A.C.R.N. (right), an expert in pediatric HIV/AIDS, has visited the nation four times. Most recently, De Santis was at a hospital in Odessa Oblast, where UNICEF has a training facility; he has also visited Kiev and other sites in Ukraine, as well as St. Petersburg, Russia.

Since only about 13 percent of Ukrainians with HIV/AIDS receive medical therapy, the need is acute. "Once the children start therapy, they usually have good outcomes," De Santis says.

In addition to training caregivers in the technical aspects of treatment, De Santis advocates for a multidisciplinary approach to care. "The caregivers I have worked with in Ukraine are very impressed by U.S. nurses' opportunities for independent decision-making and leadership," he says.

De Santis has come away from each journey to Ukraine impressed by the warmth of its people. "Despite its limited resources," he says, "Ukraine is full of intelligent, caring health care professionals trying to make a difference in the lives of its children."