While millions of people are receiving HIV treatment and services, many more still lack access to the care they need. To improve the response, donors and governments require detailed information about the epidemic so they can assess progress and identify future needs. As part of a broader effort to understand the national epidemic in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) survey was launched with 12 field teams traveling to the northern region of Zimbabwe to enroll its first participants. Led by ICAP at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, the project is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).. Teams will collect information and conduct laboratory tests to estimate the magnitude of the HIV epidemic in adults and children and to measure access to prevention, care and treatment services.
ZIMPHIA is the first of more than 15 such household-based surveys to be conducted in Africa as part of the population-based impact assessment which aims to provide a snapshot of the HIV epidemic in each country, representing an important step toward bringing even the most severely affected countries closer to the goal of treating all of those living with HIV and eliminating new infections.
“ZIMPHIA, and the PHIA project as a whole, will provide critical evidence that will guide HIV programs over the next decade. This is historic and timely effort will inform the next phase of the global response to the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of medicine and Epidemiology and ICAP director.
The assessment teams will visit 15,000 randomly selected households across Zimbabwe and administer tablet-based questionnaires to consenting household members. Survey participants receive HIV and syphilis testing and counseling, with immediate return of results, all provided with privacy in each participant’s home. Participants who test positive are referred to their preferred health care facility for treatment.
Zimbabwe’s success in responding to the HIV epidemic has been the result of well-coordinated efforts at the national level. Both the Zimbabwe and U.S. governments are enthusiastic about the project and their continued collaboration supporting the country’s HIV response. Additional resources are provided by the Government of Zimbabwe and the Global Fund.
“After more than ten years of global effort to expand access to treatment, there is a great deal of interest in understanding where things stand with the HIV epidemic. ZIMPHIA will allow Zimbabwe to gain a deeper understanding of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done in the future,” said Jessica Justman, MD, Mailman School associate professor of Epidemiology and principal investigator and senior technical director at ICAP.
A Government of Zimbabwe initiative, ZIMPHIA is being implemented in partnership with the Biomedical Research and Training Institute of Zimbabwe and Lancet Laboratories. In addition to ICAP, the project partners include the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, ICF International, Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco’s Global Health Sciences and Westat, Inc.