CDC says Kauai leading nation in disease-testing integration
By Paul Curtis
The Garden Island
LIHU‘E — A senior U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official recently said Kaua‘i is ahead of the rest of the country in integrating infectious-disease testing and prevention.
This is due to a unique partnership between the state Department of Health STD/AIDS Prevention Branch, Kaua‘i YWCA, Malama Pono and Kaua‘i Hospice, CDC officials learned during a visit to Kaua‘i earlier this month.
“Thanks for being partners with us and thanks for giving us the opportunity to see how integration of prevention efforts against HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and STDs can work so well on a rural island,” Walter Chow, CDC HIV/AIDS project officer, told D.Q. Jackson, executive director of Malama Pono-Kaua‘i AIDS Project.
“We never had the chance to see that before, mainly because you’re the first ones to do it. Kaua‘i is far ahead of the rest of the country in actualizing integration methods,” said Chow.
The CDC visit was very productive for Malama Pono, said Jackson. “Malama Pono has never before been able to interact with the CDC on our home territory.
“We were able to show them clearly and specifically what’s working well with prevention of AIDS, STDs and viral hepatitis on Kaua‘i, as well as what isn’t,” Jackson said.
“We received lots of suggestions and leads for filling many of the gaps in services for STDs from the visiting project officers,” he said.
“Our success at integrating prevention measures for these diseases is unusual, and they were able to see how partnerships between community-service organizations — in our case Kaua‘i Hospice, Malama Pono and YWCA of Kaua‘i — allowed us to more effectively meet the needs of our community.
“They will be able to point to Kaua‘i partnerships as models when they work with community-based organizations in Pacific Island nations and also on the Mainland, especially in California and the West Coast.
“This supportive visit from the CDC comes at a particularly important time for Malama Pono-Kaua‘i AIDS Project,” said Jackson.
“Two years of hard work on Kaua‘i along with help from the state Department of Health STD/AIDS Prevention Branch have now culminated in successful integration. The CDC visit validates Malama Pono’s expansion into the fight against hepatitis B, hepatitis C and STDs,” he said.
The expansion is both in terms of increased physical space, as an additional 800 square feet of office space gets added next month, as well as in terms of new services for STD testing and counseling, he said.
Because Malama Pono-Kaua‘i AIDS Project’s original mission of stopping the spread of AIDS was enhanced two years ago to include stopping the spread of viral hepatitis and STDs and because the organization’s actions now encompass a very broad range of services, the board of directors has decided to change the organization’s name, he said.
An announcement will be made during the third week of January informing the community of the name change and enhanced services, he said. For more information on Malama Pono services, call Jackson, 246-9577.