In the 25 years since the HIV/AIDS pandemic began, more than 25 million lives have been lost to the disease. Today, an estimated 38.6 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Each year, an additional four million people, including 700,000 children, are newly infected. In developing countries hardest hit by the disease, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS has drastically reduced adult life expectancy and orphaned 15 million children. In recognition of this vast human suffering, governments and international organizations launched various initiatives to provide life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) to HIV-infected people. Despite these commitments and the progress that has been made, both treatment and prevention efforts have fallen well short of goals. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80 percent of HIV-infected people, including 1.9 million children, who need ART are not receiving it. New infections also continue to occur at staggering rates.
In 2002, the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health launched one of the first global HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs. Recognizing that women are the cornerstone of families and are disproportionately affected by HIV, the Mailman School established the MTCT-Plus Initiative to focus on providing care and treatment to HIV-infected women and, through them, their families. The MTCT-Plus Initiative, supported by multiple foundations, transformed the conventional approach to HIV care and treatment by linking efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT ) with comprehensive programs focused on the health of mothers and their families. In 2004, based on the successful model of care pioneered by the MTCT-Plus Initiative, the Mailman School established the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP). The program, funded by the United States government under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), works with national and local partners to support HIV-related programs. ICAP supports more than 1,100 sites in 14 resource-limited countries around the world, principally in sub-Saharan Africa.
With its roots in comprehensive, family-focused HIV services, ICAP is known for capacity building and for its innovative, effective, and ethical programs that are implemented in the most challenging resource-limited settings. ICAP is also known for its collaborative and supportive approach to strengthening government health systems and local partners’ capacity to deliver quality health services. To date, ICAP has worked to address major public health challenges and the needs of local health systems in more than 2,700 sites across 21 countries. With more than 1,000 staff members throughout the world, ICAP implements innovative and sustainable health solutions in collaboration with local and national institutions.
ICAP strives to improve the health of families and communities through three focus areas: Programs, Research, and Training.
ICAP supports health programs that address major health issues, working in more than 2,700 health facilities across 21 countries. Using a multidisciplinary framework, ICAP-supported programs enable the provision of locally appropriate, comprehensive health services. ICAP also supports prevention activities aimed at key populations such as injection drug users, men who have sex with men, and others. Innovation characterizes ICAP’s programming and supports its novel approaches to achieve program and patient outcomes.
ICAP’s extensive research expertise is helping answer key questions of relevance to global health challenges. With a long-standing track record of technical expertise and research excellence, ICAP’s research projects assess outcomes of programs and policies as well as focus on implementation science. Findings from ICAP’s research have helped shape national and international guidelines on the treatment of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and other health areas.
ICAP is committed to building lasting skills and capacity building in a collaborative and supportive manner. ICAP’s diverse training programs aim to enhance the skills of individuals at all levels of health management team. Thousands of health care workers have been trained and received ongoing on-the-job mentorship, aimed at meaningful learning and skills building. ICAP also helps to implement innovations that improve critical processes such as patient tracking and systems for laboratory sample transport. Training opportunities, such as internships and fellowships are also offered by ICAP.
Originally known as the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, ICAP was founded in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.