ICAP Achievements Showcased at 2007 HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting in Rwanda

June 18, 2007 -- The International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health is highlighting its achievements in 23 presentations at the 2007 HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting, June 16-19, in Kigali, Rwanda.

More than 1,500 representatives of organizations supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and international agencies are attending the meeting, which examines successful approaches to the scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs in resource-limited settings.

At the meeting, ICAP staff from Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania, are presenting posters describing their experiences with activities in support of the implementation of multidisciplinary, family-focused HIV/AIDS programs.

Topics include:

• Scaling-up pediatric HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs;
• Integrating prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs;
• Clinical mentorship activities;
• Successful partnerships with organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) to support HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs.

Currently, ICAP supports more than 200 sites in 14 countries, principally in sub-Saharan Africa. ICAP-supported sites are providing HIV/AIDS care to more than 250,000 people, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) to more than 120,000 individuals. From October 2006 through March 2007, 49,000 pregnant women received HIV testing in ICAP-supported PMTCT programs in Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique. In addition, ICAP has provided support for provision of ART prophylaxis for PMTCT to more than 4,500 pregnant women and more than 4,200 infants; skills-building programs for more than 5,400 healthcare providers and more than 200 laboratory technicians; and renovations of 67 clinics, laboratories, and pharmacies for the development and expansion of the HIV/AIDS programs.

Over the last three years, ICAP has experienced significant growth in the number of people enrolled in various programs as well as expansion of the portfolio of supported programs and services. ICAP has supported the expansion of infant diagnosis capabilities to enable more children to access HIV/AIDS services; the integration of HIV/AIDS programs with maternal-child health as well as tuberculosis and malaria control programs; the growth of peer support programs; and the establishment of prevention programs targeting HIV-infected individuals.

“The solid partnerships and the remarkable innovations on the ground have made this possible,” said ICAP director Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH. “Our commitment is to help develop programs that can transform healthcare systems in a manner that will better serve all patients and communities.”

Dr. El-Sadr added, “The unprecedented investment in HIV has already catalyzed remarkable innovations that are shaping novel approaches to tackling the management of chronic conditions like HIV.”

In addition to building partnerships with institutions and other organizations in host countries, Dr. El-Sadr credited the success of ICAP-supported programs to their focus on building capacity, including infrastructure development, laboratory resources, and human resources. ICAP activities have also focused on developing novel approaches to addressing challenges to the scale-up of HIV/AIDS services. For example, in Mozambique and South Africa where there are acute shortages of health care workers, ICAP, in collaboration with its partner organizations, has implemented skills-building activities for medical technicians and nurse mentors to provide HIV/AIDS care and treatment. Other ICAP-supported activities in Nigeria and Rwanda are engaging PLWHA in efforts to better serve the needs of all individuals with HIV and their families. In Lesotho and Swaziland, ICAP is supporting expanded PMTCT programs that focus on the welfare of both mothers and their families.

ICAP’s approach is based on five principles: partnerships with Ministries of Health and National AIDS Control Programs; support of programs that provide comprehensive, family-focused services, with special emphasis on the needs of women and children; utilization of multidisciplinary teams of healthcare providers; empowering PLHWA and building linkages between them and their communities; and support for wide-ranging capacity-building activities.

ICAP is supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under PEPFAR, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Institutes of Health, and a number of private foundations.