• A Drug Dosage Table is a Useful Tool to Facilitate Prescriptions of Antiretroviral Drugs for Children in Thailand.

      Ponnet, M; Frederix, K; Petdachai, W; Wilson, D; Eksaengsri, A; Zachariah, R; Médecins Sans Frontières, Bangkok, Thailand. (2005-06)
      Scaling up of antiretroviral treatment (ART) for children in countries like Thailand will require decentralization and management by non-specialist doctors. We describe (a) the formulation of a standardized drug dosage table to facilitate antiretroviral drug (ARV) prescriptions for children, (b) the acceptability of such a table among doctors and (c) the safety and efficacy of drug doses in the table. Acceptability was assessed using a questionnaire. Safety and efficacy were assessed on the basis of incidence of adverse effects and virological response to treatment, respectively. Of all doctors (n=18), 17 (94%) found that the table was practical to use, avoided miscalculations and made them more confident with prescriptions. Of 49 children prescribed ARVs, less than 5% had adverse side-effects. All ARV-naïve children achieved undetectable viral loads within six months of ART. In our setting, a standardized drug dosage table provided a simple and reliable tool that facilitated ARV prescriptions for children.
    • Acceptance of anti-retroviral therapy among patients infected with HIV and tuberculosis in rural Malawi is low and associated with cost of transport.

      Zachariah, R; Harries, A D; Manzi, M; Gomani, P; Teck, R; Philips, M; Firmenich, P; Medecins sans Frontieres, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, Brussels, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (Public Library of Science, 2006)
      BACKGROUND: A study was conducted among newly registered HIV-positive tuberculosis (TB) patients systematically offered anti-retroviral treatment (ART) in a district hospital in rural Malawi in order to a) determine the acceptance of ART b) conduct a geographic mapping of those placed on ART and c) examine the association between "cost of transport" and ART acceptance. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A retrospective cross-sectional analysis was performed on routine program data for the period of February 2003 to July 2004. Standardized registers and patient cards were used to gather data. The place of residence was used to determine road distances to the Thyolo district hospital. Cost of transport from different parts of the district was based on the known cost for public transport to the road-stop closest to the patient's residence. Of 1,290 newly registered TB patients, 1,003(78%) underwent HIV-testing of whom 770 (77%) were HIV-positive. 742 of these individuals (pulmonary TB = 607; extra-pulmonary TB = 135) were considered eligible for ART of whom only 101(13.6%) accepted ART. Cost of transport to the hospital ART site was significantly associated with ART acceptance and there was a linear trend in association between cost and ART acceptance (chi(2) for trend = 25.4, P<0.001). Individuals who had to pay 50 Malawi Kwacha (1 United States Dollar = 100 Malawi Kwacha, MW) or less for a one-way trip to the Thyolo hospital were four times more likely to accept ART than those who had to pay over 100 MW (Adjusted Odds ratio = 4.0, 95% confidence interval: 2.0-8.1, P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: ART acceptance among TB patients in a rural district in Malawi is low and associated with cost of transport to the centralized hospital based ART site. Decentralizing the ART offer from the hospital to health centers that are closer to home communities would be an essential step towards reducing the overall cost and burden of travel.
    • AIDS Review

      Harries, A D; Zachariah, R (2010-01)
    • Antiretroviral therapy for HIV prevention: many concerns and challenges, but are there ways forward in sub-Saharan Africa?

      Zachariah, R; Harries, A D; Philips, M; Arnould, L; Sabapathy, K; O'Brien, D P; Ferreyra, C; Balkan, S; Médecins Sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Centre, Belgium. (2010-01-28)
      Scientists from the WHO have presented a theoretical mathematical model of the potential impact of universal voluntary HIV testing and counselling followed by immediate antiretroviral therapy (ART). The results of the model suggests that, in a generalised epidemic as severe as that in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), HIV incidence may be reduced by 95% in 10 years and that this approach may be cost effective in the medium term. This offers a 'ray of hope' to those who have thus far only dreamed of curbing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in SSA, as until now the glaring truth has been pessimistic. When it comes to ART, approximately 7 of 10 people who clinically need ART still do not receive it. From an epidemic point of view, for every person placed on ART an estimated four to six others acquire HIV. The likelihood of achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and universal ART access by 2010 are thus extremely low. A new window of opportunity may have now opened, but there are many unanswered feasibility and acceptability issues. In this paper, we highlight four key operational challenges linked to acceptability and feasibility and discuss possible ways forward to address them.
    • Brief Report: Decentralizing ART Supply for Stable HIV Patients to Community-Based Distribution Centers: Program Outcomes From an Urban Context in Kinshasa, DRC

      Vogt, F; Kalenga, L; Lukela, J; Salumu, F; Diallo, I; Nico, E; Lampart, E; Van den Bergh, R; Shah, S; Ogundahunsi, O; et al. (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2017-02-14)
    • Cabergoline for suppression of puerperal lactation in a prevention of mother-to-child HIV-transmission programme in rural Malawi.

      Buhendwa, L; Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Massaquoi, M; Kazima, J; Firmenich, P; Harries, A D; Medecins sans Frontieres, Thyolo District, Malawi. (Royal Society of Medicine, 2008-01)
      This study shows that cabergoline (single oral-dose) is an acceptable, safe and effective drug for suppressing puerperal lactation. It could be of operational benefit not only for artificial feeding, but also for weaning in those that breast-feed within preventive mother-to-child HIV transmission programmes in resource-limited settings.
    • Clinical screening for HIV in a health centre setting in urban Kenya: an entry point for voluntary counselling, HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV infection?

      Arendt, V; Mossong, J; Zachariah, R; Inwani, C; Farah, B; Robert, I; Waelbrouck, A; Fonck, K; Médecins Sans Frontières, Mission Kenya, Brussels Operational Centre, Brussels, Belgium. (2007-01)
      A study was conducted among patients attending a public health centre in Nairobi, Kenya in order to (a) verify the prevalence of HIV, (b) identify clinical risk factors associated with HIV and (c) determine clinical markers for clinical screening of HIV infection at the health centre level. Of 304 individuals involved in the study,107(35%) were HIV positive. A clinical screening algorithm based on four clinical markers, namely oral thrush, past or present TB, past or present herpes zoster and prurigo would pick out 61 (57%) of the 107 HIV-positive individuals. In a resource-poor setting, introducing a clinical screening algorithm for HIV at the health centre level could provide an opportunity for targeting voluntary counselling and HIV testing, and early access to a range of prevention and care interventions.
    • Community support is associated with better antiretroviral treatment outcomes in a resource-limited rural district in Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Fitzgerald, M; Labana, S; Chinji, C; Humblet, P; Harries, A D; Médecins Sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, 68 Rue de Gasperich, L-1617, Luxembourg, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2007-01)
      A study was carried in a rural district in Malawi among HIV-positive individuals placed on antiretroviral treatment (ART) in order to verify if community support influences ART outcomes. Standardized ART outcomes in areas of the district with and without community support were compared. Between April 2003 (when ART was started) and December 2004 a total of 1634 individuals had been placed on ART. Eight hundred and ninety-five (55%) individuals were offered community support, while 739 received no such support. For all patients placed on ART with and without community support, those who were alive and continuing ART were 96 and 76%, respectively (P<0.001); death was 3.5 and 15.5% (P<0.001); loss to follow-up was 0.1 and 5.2% (P<0.001); and stopped ART was 0.8 and 3.3% (P<0.001). The relative risks (with 95% CI) for alive and on ART [1.26 (1.21-1.32)], death [0.22 (0.15-0.33)], loss to follow-up [0.02 (0-0.12)] and stopped ART [0.23 (0.08-0.54)] were all significantly better in those offered community support (P<0.001). Community support is associated with a considerably lower death rate and better overall ART outcomes. The community might be an unrecognized and largely 'unexploited resource' that could play an important contributory role in countries desperately trying to scale up ART with limited resources.
    • Cotrimoxazole prophylaxis for HIV-positive TB patients in developing countries.

      Zachariah, R; Massaquoi, M; Medecins sans Frontieres, Operational Research HIV-TB, Medical department, Brussels Operational Center, 68 Rue de Gaspench, L-1617 Luxemburg. zachariah@internet.lu (2006-04)
      Despite provisional recommendations from the World Health Organization and UNAIDS that cotrimoxazole (CTX) prophylaxis be offered to all individuals living with AIDS, including HIV-positive patients with TB, its routine use in developing countries particularly Africa has been minimal. Concerns were expressed regarding its effectiveness in areas of high bacterial resistance, that its widespread use might substantially increase bacterial cross-resistance in the community and that this intervention might promote resistance of malaria parasites to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine. We review the current evidence on the above concerns and highlight the main operational considerations related to implementing CTX prophylaxis as a basic component of care for HIV-positive TB patients in developing countries.
    • Demographic characteristics and opportunistic diseases associated with attrition during preparation for antiretroviral therapy in primary health centres in Kibera, Kenya.

      Tayler-Smith, K; Zachariah, R; Manzi, M; Kizito, W; Vandenbulcke, A; Dunkley, S; von Rege, D; Reid, T; Arnould, L; Suleh, A; et al. (2011-05)
      Using routine data from HIV-positive adult patients eligible for antiretroviral therapy (ART), we report on routinely collected demographic characteristics and opportunistic diseases associated with pre-ART attrition (deaths and loss to follow-up). Among 2471 ART eligible patients, enrolled between January 2005 and November 2008, 446 (18%) were lost to attrition pre-ART. Adjusted risk factors significantly associated with pre-ART attrition included age <35 years (Odds Ratio, OR 1.4, 95% Confidence Interval, CI 1.1-1.8), severe malnutrition (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.0), active pulmonary tuberculosis (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.4), severe bacterial infections including severe bacterial pneumonia (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2-2.8) and prolonged unexplained fever (>1 month), (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.3-5.2). This study highlights a number of clinical markers associated with pre-ART attrition that could serve as 'pointers' or screening tools to identify patients who merit fast-tracking onto ART and/or closer clinical attention and follow-up.
    • Dried blood spots are a useful tool for quality assurance of rapid HIV testing in Kigali, Rwanda.

      Chaillet, P; Zachariah, R; Harries, K; Rusanganwa, E; Harries, A D; Médecins sans Frontières, Medical Department, Brussels Operational Center, Belgium. (Published by Elsevier, 2009-06)
      A study was conducted in two primary health facilities in Kigali, Rwanda, to determine whether dried blood spots (DBS) used for quality control of HIV testing would give comparable results with serum after being stored for a period of 14 days and 30 days at ambient temperature. DBS and serum specimens were collected from patients undergoing HIV testing. ELISA performed on serum at baseline (gold standard) was compared with DBS results. The study included a total of 491 patients, comprising 92 (19%) males and 399 (81%) females with a median age of 27 years. A total of 148 individuals (30%) were HIV-positive. The average ambient temperature under which DBS specimens were stored at the health facilities was 23 degrees C (range 18-25 degrees C). The kappa statistic at 14 days and 30 days was 0.99 (99.4% agreement) and 0.98 (99.2% agreement), respectively, signifying almost 'perfect agreement (P<0.001)' with the gold standard. In a resource-limited sub-Saharan African country embarking on scaling-up of HIV testing, DBS stored at ambient conditions for up to 1 month were found to be a useful and robust tool to perform quality control of rapid HIV testing at the health centre level.
    • Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries by 2030: Is It Possible?

      Harries, AD; Suthar, A; Takarinda, KC; Tweya, H; Kyaw, NTT; Tayler-Smith, K; Zachariah, R (2016-09)
      The international community has committed to ending the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical infections by 2030, and this bold stance deserves universal support. In this paper, we discuss whether this ambitious goal is achievable for HIV/AIDS and what is needed to further accelerate progress. The joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets and the related strategy are built upon currently available health technologies that can diagnose HIV infection and suppress viral replication in all people with HIV. Nonetheless, there is much work to be done in ensuring equitable access to these HIV services for key populations and those who remain outside the rims of the traditional health services. Identifying a cure and a preventive vaccine would further help accelerate progress in ending the epidemic. Other disease control programmes could learn from the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
    • Excellent outcomes among HIV+ children on ART, but unacceptably high pre-ART mortality and losses to follow-up: a cohort study from Cambodia.

      Raguenaud, M-E; Isaakidis, P; Zachariah, R; Te, V; Soeung, S; Akao, K; Kumar, V; Médecins Sans Frontières, 72, Street 592, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. eve_raguenaud@hotmail.com (2009-08-20)
      BACKGROUND: Although HIV program evaluations focusing on mortality on ART provide important evidence on treatment effectiveness, they do not asses overall HIV program performance because they exclude patients who are eligible but not started on ART for whatever reason. The objective of this study was to measure mortality that occurs both pre-ART and during ART among HIV-positive children enrolled in two HIV-programs in Cambodia. METHODS: Retrospective cohort study on 1168 HIV-positive children <15 years old registered in two HIV-programs over a four-year period. Mortality rates were calculated for both children on treatment and children not started on ART. RESULTS: Over half (53%) of children were 5 years or above and only 69(6%) were <18 months. Overall, 9% (105/1168) of children died since the set-up of the programs. By the end of the observation period, 66(14.5%) patients not on ART had died compared to 39(5.5%) of those under treatment, and 100(22%) who did not start ART were lost-to-follow-up compared to 13(2%) on ART. 66/105 (62.8%) of all in-program deaths occurred before starting ART, of which 56% (37/66) and 79% (52/66) occurred within 3 and 6 months of enrollment respectively. Mortality rate ratio between children not on ART and children on ART was 4.1 (95%CI: 2.7-6.2) (P < 0.001). The most common contributing cause of death in first 3 months of treatment and in first 3 months of program enrollment was tuberculosis. 41/52 (79%) children who died within 6 months of enrollment had met the ART eligibility criteria before death. CONCLUSION: HIV-positive children experienced a high mortality and loss-to-follow-up rates before starting ART. These program outcomes may be improved by a more timely ART initiation. Measuring overall in-program mortality as opposed to only mortality on ART is recommended in order to more accurately evaluate pediatric HIV-programs performance.
    • Generic Fixed-Dose Combination Antiretroviral Treatment in Resource-Poor Settings: Multicentric Observational Cohort

      Calmy, A; Pinoges, L; Szumilin, E; Zachariah, R; Ford, N; Ferradini, L; MSF, Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, 78 rue de Lausanne, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland. acalmy@stvincents.com.au (2006-05-12)
      BACKGROUND: The use fixed-dose combination (FDC) is a critical tool in improving HAART. Studies on the effectiveness of combined lamivudine, stavudine and nevirapine (3TC/d4T/NVP) are scarce. OBJECTIVE: To analyse 6861 patients in a large observational cohort from 21 Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) HIV/AIDS programmes taking 3TC/d4T/NVP, with subcohort analyses of patients at 12 and 18 months of treatment. METHODS: Survival was analysed using Kaplan-Meier method and factors associated with progression to death with Cox proportional hazard ratio. RESULTS: Median baseline CD4 cell count at initiating of FDC was 89 cells/microl [interquartile range (IQR), 33-158]. The median follow-up time was 4.1 months (IQR, 1.9-7.3). The incidence rate of death during follow-up was 14.2/100 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI), 13.8-14.5]. Estimates of survival (excluding those lost to follow-up) were 0.93 (95% CI, 92-94) at 6 months (n = 2,231) and 0.90 (95% CI, 89-91) at 12 months (n = 472). Using a Cox model, the following factors were associated with death: male gender, symptomatic infection, body mass index < 18 kg/m and CD4 cell count 15-50 cells/microl or < 15 cells/microl. Subcohort analysis of 655 patients after 1 year of follow-up (M12 FDC cohort) revealed that 77% remained on HAART, 91% of these still on the FDC regimen; 5% discontinued the FDC because of drug intolerance. At 18 months, 77% of the patients remained on HAART. CONCLUSIONS: Positive outcomes for d4T/3TC/NVP are reported for up to 18 months in terms of efficacy and safety.
    • High acceptability of voluntary counselling and HIV-testing but unacceptable loss to follow up in a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme in rural Malawi: scaling-up requires a different way of acting.

      Manzi, M; Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Kazima, J; Bakali, E; Firmenich, P; Humblet, P; Médecins sans Frontières-Luxembourg, Thyolo district, Luxembourg, Malawi. m.manzi@belgacom.net (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005-12)
      SETTING: Thyolo District Hospital, rural Malawi. OBJECTIVES: In a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programme, to determine: the acceptability of offering 'opt-out' voluntary counselling and HIV-testing (VCT); the progressive loss to follow up of HIV-positive mothers during the antenatal period, at delivery and to the 6-month postnatal visit; and the proportion of missed deliveries in the district. DESIGN: Cohort study. METHODS: Review of routine antenatal, VCT and PMTCT registers. RESULTS: Of 3136 new antenatal mothers, 2996 [96%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 95-97] were pre-test counselled, 2965 (95%, CI: 94-96) underwent HIV-testing, all of whom were post-test counselled. Thirty-one (1%) mothers refused HIV-testing. A total of 646 (22%) individuals were HIV-positive, and were included in the PMTCT programme. Two hundred and eighty-eight (45%) mothers and 222 (34%) babies received nevirapine. The cumulative loss to follow up (n=646) was 358 (55%, CI: 51-59) by the 36-week antenatal visit, 440 (68%, CI: 64-71) by delivery, 450 (70%, CI: 66-73) by the first postnatal visit and 524 (81%, CI: 78-84) by the 6-month postnatal visit. This left just 122 (19%, CI: 16-22) of the initial cohort still in the programme. The great majority (87%) of deliveries occurred at peripheral sites where PMTCT was not available. CONCLUSIONS: In a rural district hospital setting, at least 9 out of every 10 mothers attending antenatal services accepted VCT, of whom approximately one-quarter were HIV-positive and included in the PMTCT programme. The progressive loss to follow up of more than three-quarters of this cohort by the 6-month postnatal visit demands a 'different way of acting' if PMTCT is to be scaled up in our setting.
    • High prevalence of lipoatrophy among patients on stavudine-containing first-line antiretroviral therapy regimens in Rwanda.

      van Griensven, J; De Naeyer, L; Mushi, T; Ubarijoro, S; Gashumba, D; Gazille, C; Zachariah, R; Médecins Sans Frontières, Kimihurura, Kacyiru, 1361 Kigali, Rwanda. jvgrie@yahoo.com <jvgrie@yahoo.com> (Elsevier, 2007-08)
      This study was conducted among individuals placed on WHO-recommended first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) at two urban health centres in Kigali, Rwanda, in order to determine (a) the overall prevalence of lipodystrophy and (b) the risk factors for lipoatropy. Consecutive individuals on ART for >1 year were systematically subjected to a standardised case definition-based questionnaire and clinical assessment. Of a total of 409 individuals, 370 (90%) were on an ART regimen containing stavudine (d4T), whilst the rest were receiving a zidovudine (AZT)-containing regimen. Lipodystrophy was apparent in 140 individuals (34%), of whom 40 (9.8%) had isolated lipoatrophy, 20 (4.9%) had isolated lipohypertrophy and 80 (19.6%) had mixed patterns. Fifty-six percent of patients reported the effects as disturbing. The prevalence of lipoatrophy was more than three times higher when taking d4T compared with AZT-containing regimens (31.4% vs. 10.3%). Being female, d4T-based ART, baseline body mass index >or=25 kg/m(2) or baseline CD4 count >or=150 cells/microl and increasing duration of ART were all significantly associated with lipoatrophy. Lipoatrophy appears to be an important long-term complication of WHO-recommended first-line ART regimens. These data highlight the urgent need for access to more affordable and less toxic ART regimens in resource-limited settings.
    • HIV and Tuberculosis in Prisons in Sub-Saharan Africa

      Telisinghe, L; Charalambous, S; Topp, SM; Herce, ME; Hoffmann, CJ; Barron, P; Schouten, EJ; Jahn, A; Zachariah, R; Harries, AD; et al. (Elsevier, 2016-07-14)
      Given the dual epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa and evidence suggesting a disproportionate burden of these diseases among detainees in the region, we aimed to investigate the epidemiology of HIV and tuberculosis in prison populations, describe services available and challenges to service delivery, and identify priority areas for programmatically relevant research in sub-Saharan African prisons. To this end, we reviewed literature on HIV and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan African prisons published between 2011 and 2015, and identified data from only 24 of the 49 countries in the region. Where data were available, they were frequently of poor quality and rarely nationally representative. Prevalence of HIV infection ranged from 2·3% to 34·9%, and of tuberculosis from 0·4 to 16·3%; detainees nearly always had a higher prevalence of both diseases than did the non-incarcerated population in the same country. We identified barriers to prevention, treatment, and care services in published work and through five case studies of prison health policies and services in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, and Benin. These barriers included severe financial and human-resource limitations and fragmented referral systems that prevent continuity of care when detainees cycle into and out of prison, or move between prisons. These challenges are set against the backdrop of weak health and criminal-justice systems, high rates of pre-trial detention, and overcrowding. A few examples of promising practices exist, including routine voluntary testing for HIV and screening for tuberculosis upon entry to South African and the largest Zambian prisons, reforms to pre-trial detention in South Africa, integration of mental health services into a health package in selected Malawian prisons, and task sharing to include detainees in care provision through peer-educator programmes in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. However, substantial additional investments are required throughout sub-Saharan Africa to develop country-level policy guidance, build human-resource capacity, and strengthen prison health systems to ensure universal access to HIV and tuberculsosis prevention, treatment, and care of a standard that meets international goals and human rights obligations.
    • HIV Prevalence and Demographic Risk Factors in Blood Donors.

      Zachariah, R; Harries, A D; Nkhoma, W; Arendt, V; Spielmann M P; Buhendwa, L; Chingi, C; Mossong, J; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Luxembourg, Blantyre, Malawi. (2002-02)
      OBJECTIVES: To estimate HIV prevalence in various blood donor populations, to identity sociodemographic risk factors associated with prevalent HIV and to assess the feasibility of offering routine voluntary counselling services to blood donors. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Thyolo district, Malawi. METHODS: Data analysis involving blood donors who underwent voluntary counselling and HIV testing between January 1998 and July 2000. RESULTS: Crude HIV prevalence was 22%, while the age standardised prevalence (>15 years) was 17%. Prevalence was lowest among rural donors, students and in males of the age group 15-19 years. There was a highly significant positive association of HIV prevalence with increasing urbanisation. Significant risk factors associated with prevalence for both male and female donors included having a business-related occupation, living in a semi-urban or urban area and being in the age group 25-29 years for females and 30-34 years for males. All blood donors were pre-test counselled and 90% were post test counselled in 2000. CONCLUSIONS: HIV prevalence in blood donors was alarmingly high, raising important concerns on the potential dangers of HIV transmission through blood transfusions. Limiting blood transfusions, use of a highly sensitive screening test, and pre-donation selection of donors is important. The experience also shows that it is feasible to offer pre and post test counselling services for blood donors as an entry point for early diagnosis of asymptomatic HIV infection and, broader preventive strategies including the potential of early access to drugs, for the prevention of opportunistic infections.
    • How can the community contribute in the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis? An example from a rural district in Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Labana, S; Chinji, C; Humblet, P; Harries, A D; Médecins sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2006-02)
      This paper describes (a) the experience of initiating community involvement in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) activities in a rural district in Malawi and (b) some of the different ways in which the community is contributing in the fight against these two diseases and the outcomes of their involvement. During a 2-year period, a total of 21,358 (41%) of 52,510 HIV tests performed at voluntary counselling and HIV testing (VCT) sites in the district were conducted by lay community counsellors. A team of 465 community volunteers, 1,362 trained family caregivers and 9 community nurses provided care and support to 5,106 HIV-positive individuals, of whom 2,006 (39%) were in WHO stage III or IV. All those in WHO stage III or IV were on co-trimoxazole prophylaxis and 895 (45%) of these were also on antiretroviral treatment. A total of 2,714 TB patients, of whom 1627 (60%) were HIV-positive, also received care and support. A total of 1,694 orphans were trained in vocational skills. Twelve vegetable gardens and three maize farms were set up, and pre-school activities were organised for 900 orphans. Communities can play an important contributory role in reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS and TB and in mitigating its impact. Despite this, community resources in most settings are often under-exploited and their role remains undefined.