Today we recognize an important milestone. Over 1 million persons living with HIV have initiated life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) through ICAP-supported programs. After a decade of work in partnership with governmental, non-governmental and community-based organizations around the world and with support from “PEPFAR”:http://www.pepfar.gov/ and other funders, this milestone is an important step on the path to confronting the global HIV epidemic.
Since beginning its first multi-country HIV treatment initiative in 2003, ICAP has grown to support over 3,380 sites across sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Southern Asia. In the past year alone, ICAP expanded support to 320 additional health facilities with the most substantial increases in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire.
ICAP has leveraged HIV programming to strengthen health systems, broadly, and has supported training for over 175,000 health care providers and investment in infrastructure including expanding laboratory support systems. In just over three years, ICAP has supported the education of over 9,000 nursing students through “Nurse Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI)”:http://nepinetwork.org/.
Through these investments, more than 2 million people have received HIV care through ICAP supported programs and more than 11 million have learned their status. This work takes place every day in communities, bustling health clinics and large government hospitals.
Progress to expand access to HIV treatment has been accelerated, dramatically, with the support of by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other funders. PEPFAR alone is supporting access to treatment by over 6 million women, men and children. Today, ICAP programs reflect support of 1 in every 6 of these PEPFAR-supported patients.
“This is an enormous achievement,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of ICAP. “It reflects the hard work by the people on the ground– by committed governments, by devoted community organizations and a reflection of the engagement of the communities themselves,” she said. “This achievement is their achievement.”
This vision is reflected in a recent “editorial in Science”:http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6193/166.full, in which Dr. El-Sadr, Katherine Harripersaud and Ronald Bayer stress the need for continued investment in HIV prevention and care and sustained momentum despite acknowledged challenges. “Envisioning a world without epidemic AIDS is a deeply profound concept. Let this be the rallying call.”
At the upcoming 20th International AIDS Conference (July 21-25), ICAP will present findings from across its programs, from home-based testing in Swaziland to pediatric ART initiation in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Swaziland.
ICAP will also convene a pre-conference meeting for policy makers and technical experts to examine how to foster quality and quality improvement in the context of HIV scale up. The meeting is an opportunity to focus on quality of programs as a critical ingredient to achievement of the impact of programs.