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 2010

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 community.

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 community leaders."

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 Africa.

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 (BIPAI)

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 HIV-infected children.

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 for tuberculosis.

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."

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