HIV/AIDS studies in Africa

HIV/AIDS lab technician
A technician processes blood samples in the lab of the Princess Marina Hospital in Gabrone, Botswana, site of HSPH research on HIV/AIDS.

[Fall 2013 Centennial issue]

The School’s fieldwork in HIV/AIDS, which has received support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the National Institutes of Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NIH, and other private philanthropists, is concentrated in three African countries: Nigeria, Botswana, and Tanzania. Initiatives in each country have transitioned their HIV care and treatment programs to local management, with HSPH researchers continuing to offer technical assistance.

In Nigeria, HSPH founded and led the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) with local partners, and later expanded this partnership to create the Harvard/APIN PEPFAR program. This program established 32 AIDS treatment and care facilities around the country and played a significant role in the AIDS treatment program in Nigeria, a nation where the HIV infection rate dropped from 5 percent in 2000 to 4.1 percent in 2010. The program trained clinicians and developed systems of care that supported:

  • Lifesaving medicines to 100,000+ people
  • HIV care and services to 160,000 people
  • Counseling, testing, and diagnosis to 1,005,600 people, including 390,000 pregnant women
  • Treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission for 20,600 pregnant women

In Botswana, HSPH formed a partnership with the government that has trained more than 1,450 nurses and health care professionals at rural antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites, scaled up testing capacity at 24 remote facilities, and provided extensive monitoring and evaluation by tracking data for more than 150,000 patients.

In Tanzania, HSPH worked with government and university partners to enroll 80,000 patients on ART, provide services at 185 facilities for preventing mother-to-child transmission, and establish 49 HIV care and treatment centers, all in the capitol city, Dar es Salaam.

From individuals to communities

Victor De Gruttola
Victor De Gruttola Chair, Department of Biostatistics

“Within an individual, we know the processes by which cells get infected with HIV, the virus replicates, and antiretrovirals (ARVs) interfere with that process. We need similar kinds of models at the community level that describe transmission across individuals. The goal is to learn at the community level what we’ve learned over the decades about individual therapy: how to optimize treatments and tailor them to individual characteristics.”
— Victor DeGruttola, Chair, Department of Biostatistics


— Madeline Drexler