Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation combats HIV and tuberculosis in
African community projects
26 July 2010
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) and the Bristol-Myers
Squibb Foundation announced at the XVIII International AIDS Conference
in Vienna the community-based projects that it is currently supporting
in resource-poor regions across Africa to help combat the challenge of
HIV and tuberculosis co-infection.
This initiative is an element of Secure the Future, a
philanthropic program that provides care and support for communities
affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
In its eleventh year, Secure the Future is one of the largest
public-private corporate philanthropic commitments of its kind to
fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. In 2008, it entered a new
phase as a technical assistance and skills transfer program, which
aims to replicate Secure the Future's lessons, experiences and
successful models, address a strategic challenge of operational
multi-sectoral collaborations in HIV by harnessing community
resources and capacity.
In 2008, 1.3 million people died from tuberculosis globally and
500,000 people died of HIV-associated tuberculosis. As such,
tuberculosis is the biggest killer of people living with HIV in
Africa and a major cause of death elsewhere.
"Over the past decade, projects supported by Secure the Future
have accumulated substantial experience in delivering innovative
community-based interventions to support the HIV-positive population
in resource-deprived areas of Africa. Now we are deploying lessons
learned from these interventions to tackle tuberculosis as part of
our mandate to fight HIV," said John Damonti, President,
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
"Our Technical Assistance Program remains robust and responsive
with partners in 21 African countries. It leverages the successes,
experiences and learnings from Secure the Future past grant
recipients to provide training and technical assistance and empower
communities to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of
multi-sectoral, community-based HIV/AIDS programs."
Recently, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has provided backing
for new innovative community-based projects focusing on working
closely with local communities to improve the diagnosis, support,
education and treatment for HIV-positive members who are also
infected with tuberculosis.
Four projects have received Secure the Future technical
assistance grants to aid communities in sub-Saharan Africa,
KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape Provinces and Luthando. In addition,
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has partnered with Baylor
International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) to develop the
network of children's centres in Africa, supported by Secure the
Future. All this builds on the experience gained with
community-based approaches pioneered by previous Secure the Future
programs for the broader population of people affected by HIV/AIDS
over the last decade.
Projects supported by Secure the Future presented at AIDS
Bambisanani Project Community Tuberculosis Program
The Bambisanani Project Community Tuberculosis Program in South
Africa was initiated to create ownership and full participation of
the communities in the management of tuberculosis at a household
level by bringing health and laboratory services directly into the
This has generated strong local support and helped build trust
between care workers and family members. Since 2005, Bambisanani
screened more than 35,000 people for tuberculosis, 18,000 of whom
were referred to initiate treatment, about 5,500 in 2009 alone and
close to 16,000 people who have completed treatment.
Ms. Nombuyiselo Tshumane, Director of Bambisanani, said: "In
2009, we screened approximately 10,000 people, collecting 20,000
sputa specimens in hard-to-reach villages. This was a three-fold
increase from 2005, when we first started. The difference we make is
that we unlock the potential of communities and create a suitable
environment for care and support in partnership with government and
Bambisanani is a flagship project that is part of Vumbulula
(Unearth) TB programme, which is a comprehensive community outreach,
education and prevention programme focusing on three sites that have
high burden of tuberculosis in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, South
It is a one-year pilot study initiated in June 2010 that involves
mass community and home-based tuberculosis screening and referrals
for HIV testing counseling, drawing on projects by Secure the
Future's long-term partner, Bambisanani and some key learnings from
Mpilonhle. While the two experienced sites will be learning for each
other, they will simultaneously provide technical assistance to a
new site, which will be chosen to introduce the intervention and to
assess replicability in similar settings.
Mpilonhle is a non-governmental organization (NGO) running a
successful initiative in KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, the HAST +
Ca Program. This is a health education program on HIV/AIDS, sexually
transmitted infections, tuberculosis and cancer involving household
visits by nurses who treat tuberculosis patients, door to door
health education, distribution of educational materials and condoms
and formation of support groups. The HAST + Ca Program also traces
those patients who default on their tuberculosis and HIV treatments.
A new element to the program involves community screening to help
increase diagnosis of people with early-stage tuberculosis.
Beyond HAST + Ca Program
Beyond HAST + Ca Program is run by Luthando Psychiatric HIV
Clinic. It enhances access to tuberculosis and HIV services in
communities with high burden of tuberculosis by utilising intensive
case identification and providing antiretroviral treatment to
mentally ill HIV patients, who are at increased risk of contracting
and transmitting HIV and tuberculosis. Tuberculosis identification,
diagnosis and adherence to treatment amongst this vulnerable group
poses a significant challenge to clinicians.
Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative Network
Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative Network (BIPAI)
consists of a network of seven Children's Centres of Excellence in
sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe for the care and treatment of
children and their families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
More than 68,000 patients are under its care. Given that
tuberculosis is a major cause of death among HIV-infected children
older than 12 months, BIPAI's personnel have been trained in the
symptomatic screening of tuberculosis and BIPAI predominantly
follows the WHO guidelines for treatment of tuberculosis in
BIPAI has also launched several research studies examining
tuberculosis incidence, effectiveness of anti-tuberculosis therapy
in relation to HIV treatment and identifying those patients at risk
A recent analysis presented at AIDS 2010 evaluated the mortality
rate on HAART and its effectiveness among 2,171 children treated at
the Children's Centres of Excellence (COE) in southern Africa. The
study found that annualized mortality decreased progressively with
increasing duration of therapy from 10.1% in February 2008 to 4.7%
in September 2009.
"TB infection is a deadly risk for people living with HIV in the
more resource-deprived areas of Africa, especially so for children,"
said Dr. Richard Sebastian Wanless, VP of Research and Program
Evaluation for Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative and
Medical Director of the Baylor Black Sea Foundation in Romania. "We
are extremely grateful to the Secure the Future program for
supporting our initiatives addressing this challenge."