Motivation for UB-UZ HRTP

HIV/AIDS in Africa- Higher HIV infection within low to middle income countries (LMIC)

HIV infection rates are disproportionately higher in sub-Saharan countries than those found in developed countries. It has been estimated that there are 24.7 million HIV-positive adults and children in this region. While it consists of ~10% of the world’s population, this region counts for ~ 60% of all people living with HIV. In the same region an estimated 2.8 million people acquired new infection and 2.1 million adults and children died from AIDS in 2006. Despite a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, national health programs in these poorly-resourced, developing countries can hardly afford the essential medicines, especially antiretrovirals (ARVs), given their current high prices. The net effect is that while developed countries are now focusing on improving the effectiveness of already established HAART regimes, LMIC are still struggling to increase the accessibility to HIV/AIDS medicines.

According to UNAID/WHO, at the end of June 2006, ARV therapy coverage for sub-Saharan Africa was 23% while the overall coverage for LMIC was 24%. Faced with the overwhelming HIV/AIDS epidemic, sub-Saharan countries with limited resources are managing the emergency using epidemiological approaches as opposed to individualized therapy for patients. Programs are more interested in regimens that can be used effectively and safely in the majority of patients as opposed to regimens that focus on catering to patient differences. This approach has led to the increased need to understand ARV pharmacology from both an individual and a population-based approach, and has been the primary motivation for setting up the UB-UZ HRTP program.

Since the need for training in HIV/AIDS Clinical Pharmacology has expanded in scope, this is a focus area for the UB-UZ HRTP. The program provides a mechanism for multi-disciplinary training to conduct HIV/AIDS treatment research and achieve the goals that Zimbabwe has established for optimizing ARV therapy and expanding its pool of clinician scientists. This will significantly contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the sub-Saharan Africa region.