In the 30 years since the HIV/AIDS pandemic began, more than 25 million lives have been lost to the disease. Today, an estimated 38.6 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Each year, an additional four million people, including 700,000 children, are newly infected. In developing countries hardest hit by the disease, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS has drastically reduced adult life expectancy and orphaned 15 million children.
In recognition of this vast human suffering, governments and international organizations launched various initiatives to provide life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) to HIV-infected people. Despite these commitments and the progress that has been made, both treatment and prevention efforts have fallen well short of goals. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80 percent of HIV-infected people, including 1.9 million children, who need ART are not receiving it. New infections also continue to occur at staggering rates.
Originally known as the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, ICAP was founded in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. One of the world’s leading public health experts, Dr. El-Sadr was instrumental in demonstrating that it is possible to effectively scale up HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in resource-limited settings. She and her ICAP colleagues led the world’s first multi-country HIV treatment program—enrolling nearly 14,000 women and children in sub-Saharan Africa and Thailand in HIV treatment at a time when skeptics deemed this to be unfeasible. This achievement formed the basis of one of ICAP’s key guiding principles: quality health care should be available to everyone. ICAP has since gone on to support HIV treatment for over 1.5 million people around the world.
Today, ICAP’s work has expanded to address other major health threats, including tuberculosis, maternal and child health, malaria, and non-communicable diseases. ICAP collaborates with local and national institutions in the US, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia to strengthen health systems and to implement innovative and sustainable health solutions.