The 2012 HIV/AIDS conference in Tehran was a collaborative effort of universities in the US and Iran, with speakers from the US and Canada invited to make presentations to participants from many countries, including Afghanistan, Kenya, and Pakistan, as well as the Britain and the US. Iran has been praised for the way they have responded to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its country.
Mississippi, according to the United Health Foundation, is the unhealthiest state in the US. For decades, health disparities between impoverished and more well-to-do citizens in the Delta have been similar to those in developing countries. Over 20 years, Iran’s public health system virtually eliminated health disparities between the urban and rural population – and did so with minimal resources.
Research initiated in 2007 led to an assessment that the Iranian health-care model could be the much-needed paradigm shift for the Delta, as it would move from medically reactive “sick-care” to that of a proactive, community-based primary health-care system advocated by the World Health Organization.
The Mississippi-Iran rural health project was also a modest but important step to promote peace and better understanding between Americans and Iranians. The key to the project’s success is that it has reversed old patterns that always put Iranians into the position of inferiors seeking help. Now Americans are respectfully asking Iranians for help with one of our problems. From the Iranian point of view, the change is profound.