Baltimore-based Institute Serves as Global Health Model for AIDS Education, Training and Treatment Programs
Since 2004, the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has cared for one million HIV infected individuals in seven African and two Caribbean nations through more than $300 million in funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a $48 billion initiative launched in 2004 by former President George W. Bush and continued by President Barack Obama. Through unique partnerships, including those between academia, foreign governments and community organizations, PEPFAR has managed to put the first real dent in the global AIDS response by helping developing nations learn how to diagnose, treat, and prevent their own AIDS epidemics.
“My colleagues and fellow co-founders of the IHV, Bill Blattner, MD and Robert Redfield, MD, comprise a select few of the country’s top PEPFAR recipients,” said Robert Gallo, MD, Director of the IHV, and most widely known for his co-discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS and development of the HIV blood test. “Reaching 1 million in HIV care overseas is a tribute to their longtime dedication to fight this disease and their legacies will live on through the lives they have saved.”
Since 2004, the IHV has partnered with the governments of Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia to address each country’s growing HIV/AIDS epidemics. The IHV led efforts to build public health infrastructures in each country via strategic international, national, and local collaborations through the design and implementation of unique education, training, and treatment programs addressing each country’s complex HIV/AIDS epidemics.
William Blattner, MD, IHV Associate Director and Director of the Epidemiology and Prevention Division, established an affiliate of the Baltimore-based IHV known as the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN). Since 2004, Dr. Blattner and IHVN have established 315 antiretroviral treatment programs in hospitals, 950 Prevention of Mother-to- Child treatment programs in local clinics, 193 TB centers, and 1,030 HIV testing sites throughout the country. Over 3.2 million have been tested for HIV in Nigeria and care and support has been provided to 283,000 HIV positive individuals. This HIV and TB clinical care capacity is a vital resource to Nigeria. IHV continues to provide technical assistance to support the Government of Nigeria and multiple local healthcare partners.
“The impact of this work touches the lives of individuals and their families in a broader context by adding to the quality of healthcare where our programs are implemented,” said Dr. Blattner. “This is IHV’s global legacy.”
Robert Redfield, MD, IHV Associate Director and Director of the Clinical Care and Research Division, led the implementation of PEPFAR programs in all nine countries, which resulted in linking more than 750,000 HIV positive patients into care.
“The PEPFAR program continues to have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people infected with and affected by the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Redfield.
In Guyana, IHV enrolled more than 2,443 patients in HIV care and initiated more than half into antiretroviral treatment. These efforts contributed to more than 30% of all HIV care and treatment enrolled clients in Guyana. Additionally, the program trained more than 200 healthcare professionals in the advanced management of HIV diseases and related illnesses. IHV established the nation’s first and only internal medicine and infectious diseases post-graduate training residency program and revised the Infectious Diseases management curriculum for medical students at University of Guyana, including the training of more than 100 medical students. The IHV team also trained key staff of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation in grants management, which has enabled them to be eligible to be a recipient of grant funds from various sponsors.
Over the past 10 years, the IHV has been an instrumental participant in improving Haiti’s quality of HIV and TB care to more than 15,000 patients beginning with AIDSRelief, and continuing through our partnership with the University of Notre Dame d’Haiti to provide post-graduate training specializing in HIV and Infectious Diseases for physicians and nurses. The IHV is a permanent member of the national cluster for HIV care, and Haiti now has a cadre of HIV experts who are trained onsite and are becoming leaders in the field of HIV care and research in Haiti. Due to an existing and strong presence in Haiti, the IHV was also instrumental in addressing the health crisis following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port au Prince.
In Kenya, the IHV leads a team that is creating and implementing what has proven to be a paradigm shift in the health workforce of HIV related training, in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the University of Nairobi, by developing a National HIV Integrated training course. The onsite course replaced more than 20 disparate curricula, reducing time away from work for training. The course was piloted and is currently being rolled out nationally, positioned to cut the unit cost of training by about 10 fold.
In Nigeria, in addition to the IHVN, the IHV Clinical Division successfully facilitated the operationalization of a local country organization, the Center for Clinical Care and Research Nigeria – CCCRN, to retain capacities previously built by the IHV, and also facilitated the launch of HIV/AIDS training hubs in 13 training institutions for nurses and community health extension workers and 44 military hospitals in Kaduna State. The IHV additionally incorporated HIV/AIDS topics in curriculum for MPH students, and launched a short course in HIV/AIDS for Doctors of the University of Nigeria.
The IHV’s team in Rwanda supports the Rwandan Ministry of Health (MOH) to implement a decentralized clinical mentorship model in HIV care and treatment. This model is now implemented across 85 facilities and will be increased to 181 sites by the end of 2016. The IHV is a designated technical partner to the Rwandan MOH, aimed at improving oversight and quality assurance of public health programs in the country.
The IHV team in Tanzania provides technical assistance for quality HIV care at 101 healthcare facilities providing antiretroviral therapy and 521 Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission facilities in 3 regions of Tanzania. This project has enrolled 98,638 patients in care, out of which 76,187 were cumulatively started on treatment, and 41,198 were currently on treatment.
In Zambia, the IHV implemented post-graduate training programs at the University Of Zambia School Of Medicine in Masters of Science in HIV Medicine and Infectious Diseases, which have trained more than 15% of all practicing physicians in Zambia.
About the Institute of Human Virology
Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System, IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, vist www.ihv.org and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.