Exchange Programs with United States Universities


Fundación VIHDA has developed collaboration projects with students and faculty from several renowned United States universities in which students spend time in Ecuador each year in order to gain experience and work in our assistance programs for detecting new HIV cases and attending people living with HIV.

Among the participating schools are: Yale University, Duke University, the University of Kentucky, and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. During these exchanges, students perform rotations both in the Maternity Hospital and in Fundación VIHDA.

Yale University: The Yale-Ecuador HIV Clinic Initiative

The Yale-Ecuador HIV Clinic Initiative was formed in 2011 by a group of students from Yale University. Its founder, Sam Vesuna, was a student at Yale who had spent a previous summer travelling in Ecuador and had identified high HIV incidence areas in the country. He and several classmates reached out to Fundación VIHDA and proposed to undertake a project of Early HIV Detection using rapid HIV test in the Hospital of Manglaralto.

For 3 consecutive years, the Yale-Ecuador HIV Clinic Initiative sent delegations of six students to communities located in Santa Elena Province to promote the importance of early detection of HIV.

Fundación VIHDA provided the necessary logistical support for the exchange students to make this intervention as effective as possible. They also received training and information from highly skilled counselors within our organization, and we provided part of the rapid HIV tests they used adding to the ones they donated to the project, as well as the educational materials used in community training.


As part of this exchange project, Fundación VIHDA also visited Yale University to present our work to faculty and students. Our founders gave a campus-wide presentation to inform the Yale community of our efforts at Fundación VIHDA and to invite students to be part of the Yale-Ecuador HIV Clinic Initiative to detect early new HIV cases, prevent mother to child HIV transmission, and assist people living with HIV and their families.

Accurate Drug Dosage Project with Duke University

Since 2013, Duke University in conjunction with Fundación VIHDA and the Maternity Hospital, have been conducting a study to optimize dosing and the safe administration of antiretroviral medicine to babies born within our Mother-Child HIV Transmission Prevention Program.


The project director, Dr. Robert Malkin, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, and his team, have developed pouches (sachets) that are easier to handle for mothers administering the medications to their newborns than spoons, droppers or syringes. The foil pouches are manufactured with very specific materials in order to preserve ARV medication without refrigeration, as well as for measuring and delivering pediatric medication in the right dose.


To confirm the benefit of these pouches, Fundacion VIHDA and Duke University volunteers have evaluated its use and results among women living with HIV to measure the usefulness of the pouch compared to its alternatives. After some promising results, the Maternity Hospital has begun replacing the use of spoons or droppers to measure medication dosages in favor of the pouch because of its improved accuracy and ease of use.


Fundacion VIHDA hopes to extend its collaboration with Duke University into 2015 and 2016.

Exchange Experience with the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

Each year in August, a group of students from the MSPP Latino Mental Health Program complete rotations in two countries in Latin America for cultural immersion and pre-professional practice.

Several MSPP students visit Fundacion VIHDA for this rotation, taking part in various activities and working with psychology professionals in Fundación VIHDA. Students are involved in programs that benefit people living with HIV and their families, both in the Maternity Hospital and within our organization, such as our peer counseling education training program for students “Pilas Ahí”, or our diagnostic disclosure program, among others.

This exchange experience for MSPP students is made possible thanks to the assitance of the Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano (North American – Ecuadorian Center).


Translated by Rachel Mestnik, Peace Corps 2014. Edited by Fundacion VIHDA.   


Somos una organización ciudadana sin fines de lucro que:

Lucha por detener la transmisión madre-hijo del VIH durante el embarazo, parto y lactancia.
Educa sobre qué es, cómo se transmite, cómo se previene y cómo se trata el VIH/Sida.
Promociona la realización y fácil acceso a pruebas voluntarias de VIH.
Asiste a personas viviendo con el VIH/SIDA a acceder a servicios médicos, psicológicos y sociales disponibles.