March 7, 2006

During a recent visit to U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Neils Marquardt, Pratima Raghunathan, director of the Cameroon branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pledged to reinforce struggling HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and "describe, evaluate and support antiretroviral programs" in the country. She noted that the CDC was going to increase communication with at-risk communities and provide increased quality control and assurance for HIV-diagnosis and monitoring.

HIV/AIDS has become increasingly prevalent in Cameroon in recent years. In 2003, 520,000 adults and 43,000 children were diagnosed with the disease. Of those infected that year, 49,000 cases were fatal.

"CDC's current mission in Cameroon is to develop epidemiological and laboratory capacity to conduct HIV prevention research," said Raghunathan. She noted that the CDC has been working directly in Cameroon since 2000, and since 2004 have focused more on HIV prevention than on any other area of research. The CDC recently established a treatment center in Mutengene, in the southwestern region of the country, which has served as a home-base for various HIV/AIDS clinical studies.