Stefan Wiktor, acting professor of global health at the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Medicine, has received funding through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to promote HIV prevention and treatment and to help Zimbabwe’s efforts to reach HIV epidemic control. The five-year cooperative agreement, with an annual budget of about $15 million, is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), housed in the UW’s Department of Global Health, has worked in Zimbabwe since 2003. The center began with a $150,000 grant to assess the need for HIV training in Zimbabwe. Over the years, the work has expanded such that I-TECH now works in more than 350 Ministry of Health clinics in 19 districts to provide HIV testing, linkage to care and treatment. I-TECH has deployed more than 600 staff at these facilities to work alongside Ministry staff as well as in district and regional offices.
The overarching goal of the award is to help the Zimbabwe government reach the ambitious targets set by UNAIDS to help end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. These targets, referred to as “95-95-95” mean that 95 percent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 95 percent of people who know their status are on treatment, and 95 percent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.
I-TECH’s care and treatment work in Zimbabwe is accomplished through a consortium called the Zimbabwe Partnership to Accelerate AIDS Control (ZIMPAAC). The consortium is managed by the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences Clinical Trials Unit and includes two local organizations, AFRICAID and Pangaea Zimbabwe AIDS Trust. The consortium provides an opportunity to rapidly expand comprehensive HIV services to general and key populations throughout Zimbabwe, according to Wiktor, the principal investigator.
Through the consortium, I-TECH provides direct service delivery and site support for HIV testing, care and treatment at 372 public sector health facilities using approaches that strengthen health systems and improve the quality of care and treatment services. Wiktor expressed hope that, through the continued hard work of the Zimbabwe consortium, the country will achieve its targets.
“Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Africa closest to reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, and ZIMPAAC is a critical partner to the Ministry of Health in that effort,” Wiktor said. “We have assembled an experienced and committed team, and I am delighted to be working with such outstanding public health professionals.”