Media Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Largest ever whole-of-population study on the impact of TB and HIV interventions on the burden of TB launched in sub-Saharan African communities

Friday, 23 March 2018 (London, UK) – A new EUR 12.9 million project has been launched, measuring the impact of a combination TB and HIV intervention when delivered to the entire population of 14 urban, high-prevalence communities in South Africa and Zambia.

TB and HIV are the leading infectious causes of death worldwide – in 2016 1.7 million people died of TB. For people living with HIV, TB is the most significant co-infection, 40 percent of HIV deaths in 2016 were due to TB. The TREATS project [Tuberculosis Reduction through Expanded Anti-retroviral Treatment and Screening] was developed in response to this.

“TREATS is a unique opportunity to assess a combined TB and HIV intervention on a massive scale,” said Dr Helen Ayles, TREATS Project Director, Professor of Infectious Diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Research Director at Zambart. “It will provide amazing data and hopefully some practical solutions to end TB. TB is a curable illness, but in order to better reach people with treatment, we need to understand the epidemiology of the disease better. This is true active case-finding.”

TREATS aims to inform new policies and approaches for tackling the TB / HIV epidemic. As the global health community works towards ambitious new goals to end TB, TREATS will provide invaluable new information for accelerating effective interventions.

TREATS is being conducted by a consortium of organisations that is already running the largest ever trial of a combination HIV prevention strategy, known as HPTN 071 (PopART). This trial is being conducted across 21 communities in Zambia and South Africa, covering around one million people in total. PopART involves universal testing and treatment for HIV through house-to-house visits on an annual basis over four years – from 2014 – 2018. As part of PopART, all community members are also screened for TB.

Building on PopART, TREATS will measure the impact of this combined TB / HIV intervention on tuberculosis – measuring prevalence of disease as well as incidence of infection. The project runs until 2021 and includes: a social science component to better understand stigma related to TB; mathematical and economic modelling to provide answers for how future large-scale interventions can be undertaken effectively; use of the newest tools available for diagnosing TB infection and operating effectively on a large scale.

TREATS consortium members include: London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, Zambart, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, Sheffield University, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Health Systems Trust, Delft Imaging Systems and QIAGEN.

The EUR 12.9 million project is part of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, (EDCTP2 programme) supported by the European Union under Horizon 2020 – its Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

 

#worldTBday

#TREATSproject

 

ENDS

Further information:

Johanna Dollerson
The Union
jdollerson@theunion.org
+44 7920 421783

Helen Platt
The Union
hplatt@theunion.org
+44 7487 268167

Zambart’s Professor Helen Ayles honored

Zambart’s Professor Helen Ayles honored for contribution and leadership to end HIV and TB in Zambia

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation on November 27, 2017 celebrated 10 years of HIV prevention, treatment and advocacy work in Zambia. As part of its commemorations, AHF recognized individuals and organizations whose work to help reduce the spread of HIV infection and increase access to treatment and care has greatly impacted communities and contributed to the national efforts to combat the epidemic.
Zambart’s Director of Research Professor Helen Ayles was among the award recipients recognized for her leadership and contribution to the fight against HIV and Tuberculosis (TB). Accepting her award, at a colorful ceremony held in Lusaka, Zambia, Professor Ayles dedicated it to the communities where Zambart works and also to the Zambart research team whom she applauded for being the foot soldiers working tirelessly to help find the solutions to end HIV and TB.

 We will end HIV, we will end TB, we can do it, we just need to keep going, this is not a sprint it’s a marathon but we will get there. – Professor Helen Ayles,  Zambart Director of Research

“As a researcher you never work alone, I have an amazing team of researchers at Zambart working tirelessly trying to find a solution to end HIV and to end TB. In all the research we do, we do it to find solutions in the health care facilities and in the community, we work with so many partners, but most of all we work with the people of Zambia. This award is for all of them. We will end HIV, we will end TB, we can do it, we just need to keep going, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon but we will get there”
The awards were attended by the senior Ministry of Health representatives, National AIDS Council of Zambia, AHF board chairperson, Africa Bureau Chief and country personnel, The Archbishop of Lusaka arch diocese and president of the Zambia episcopal conference, AHF partners and HIV nongovernmental organisations, and media heads.

Professor Helen Ayles’ Bio
Professor Helen Ayles-Reserach Director- Zambart

Professor Helen Ayles

Professor Helen Ayles BSc MBBS MRCP DTM&H MSc PhD is the Director of Research at Zambart, which has conducted clinical research into the dual TB and HIV epidemics in Zambia for over 20 years. Professor Ayles is Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health in the Clinical Research Department in the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

After training in clinical infectious and tropical diseases in the UK, Professor Ayles trained in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has worked as a clinician in the UK, Uganda and Zambia, and has over 25 years of developing country experience in clinical TB and HIV management and epidemiology, and in the evaluation of large public health interventions.
In 1998 she moved to Zambia where she has since led the Zambart research team. Zambart is a multidisciplinary research and academic institution with over 750 members of staff working on different studies. Professor Ayles is the Zambia principal investigator for the PopART trial (HPTN071), a large community-randomised trial of treatment as prevention for HIV. She is also Principal Investigator for a new consortium funded by EDCTP examining the effect a universal HIV intervention, such as PopART, has on tuberculosis. The TREATS consortium (TB Reduction through expanded antiretroviral therapy and TB screening) brings together 3 European and 2 African countries as well as academia and industry to try and find innovative solutions for TB.
Professor Ayles is passionate about ending the HIV and TB epidemics affecting Africa and actively pursues research in new diagnostics including self-testing for HIV and novel TB diagnostics to assist with this aim. Professor Ayles is also passionate about research capacity development and is involved in training many African masters and PhD students.

Community Engagement Award

The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 2017 annual meeting brought together researchers from its clinical trials involved in HIV prevention in countries across the world. Zambart, is part of a consortium of international researchers currently conducting the world’s largest HIV prevention trial in 21 communities in Zambia and South Africa.

The Zambart Community Engagement (CE) team on the HPTN 071(PopART) Trial won the Best Community Engagement Award for outstanding performance in mobilising the biggest community randomised HIV prevention study in the world. During the course of the four year study, Zambart’s CE team has developed novel strategies to engage, sustain, and work together with other study groups to increase participants for the trial, including ancillary studies nested with the main trial.

Zambart Commemorates National HIV testing, Counselling, and Treatment Day Activities

On August 15, 2017 Zambart joined other health stakeholders and participated in the annual HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment (HTCT) Day event spearheaded by the Ministry of Health (MoH). National HTCT Day (previously National VCT Day) is held to raise public awareness on HIV prevention and treatment.  During this year’s event, the President of Zambia Edgar Lungu announced the government shift to routine HIV testing and treatment in all health facilities in the country.

Zambart’s objective of participating in this event was to support HIV prevention and treatment, and showcase some of the organisation’s innovative activities aimed at enhancing uptake of HIV testing and treatment.

Across all its research sites on the Copperbelt, Central, Lusaka, and Southern provinces, Zambart field teams mobilised and conducted various community engagement and sensitisation activities in different zones, and participated in the district-level commemorations held under the theme: “HIV Test and Treat: Towards Ending AIDS”. The activities were also aimed to increase awareness about HTCT Day.

Zambart conducted satellite outreach activities in the communities prior to HTCT Day. The activities included offering free HIV Counselling and Testing, linkage to care, screening for Tuberculosis  and Sexually Transmitted Infections, distribution of lubricants, condoms and  information and education materials, and providing HIV health talks and counselling to adolescents in Youth Friendly Corners in Zambart supported clinics.

World TB Day 2016

On March 24, 2016, Zambart joined the rest of the country in commemorating World TB Day. Across different study sites in Lusaka, Copperbelt and Southern provinces, Zambart staff under the on-going HPTN 071 (PopART) study engaged in different awareness – raising activities in the local communities.

PopART-ART-Interevntion-ManagerPopART study Community HIV Care Providers (CHiPs) distributed condoms, conducted TB screening and sputum collection, community HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) mostly targeted at adolescents and men.  They also sensitised the communities on TB stigma, TB management, infection control and prevention.

Tents were mounted in select areas where CHiPs were positioned to specifically target the youth and adolescents.

TB Corner staff and Community Advisory Board Members (CAB), PopART study implementing partners and district health staff in some study sties, joined the CHiPs in the community awareness-rising campaigns.

Zambart staff took the lead and screened for TB first as well breaking down barriers by submitting sputum for examination.

Communities in all the PopART study intervention sites were involved in the World TB day commemorative activities. These include: Chimwemwe and Ndeke in Kitwe; Chifubu in Ndola; Makululu in Kabwe, Kanyama and Chipata in Lusaka, and Maramba and Dambwa in Livingstone.

Zambart public engagement project: Nzuna lulila ya sugar

For the last few years we have been working on some research projects that have focused on how diabetes affects tuberculosis in Lusaka (The DARTZ studies). Through this work we have met many people who are living with diabetes and we have listened to their stories. We have heard story after story about the difficulties and barriers that individuals living with diabetes face in Lusaka. Stories of years of multiple visits to clinics with diabetes symptoms before a diagnosis is made. Stories of young people with severe complications because they haven’t been able to access adequate treatment. And we have seen patients die in their twenties and thirties from uncontrolled, untreated diabetes; deaths that could have been prevented with long-term adequate treatment. Tuberculosis has a structured and coordinated service for diagnosis and treatment that exists throughout the country, but diabetes lacks even basic national guidelines for its management. We therefore wanted to help to raise the profile of diabetes and decided to do this through the use of cartoons.

IMG_5724

We invited some people living with diabetes to join a small workshop. Six participants attended. During the workshop we discussed the difficulties and challenges that result from living with diabetes. The main challenges that emerged during the workshop were accessing care at the clinic, accessing appropriate food products and accessing accurate information about diabetes. We invited a cartoonist, Kiss Brian Abraham, to observe the workshop and draw some cartoon pictures based on the discussions throughout the workshop and with the involvement of the workshop participants. We then used the cartoon pictures to inform the wider public about diabetes and raise the profile of some of the challenges facing people living with diabetes. We hope that this will help to provoke solutions to be found for these challenges and ultimately help to improve the lives of people living with diabetes in Lusaka.

The cartoon pictures can be seen in the accompanying leaflet.

DARTZ1 DARTZ2 DARTZ3

Zambart, CIDRZ and AERAS Train Community TB Advocates

Zambart and its collaborating partner Centre for Infectious Diseases in Zambia (CIDRZ) in the Phase IIb trial of a new tuberculosis vaccine awaiting activation, held a two-day training for TB community advocates at Lusaka’s Cresta Golfview Hotel.

IMG_444950 community engagement advocates drawn from various community based organisations in Lusaka’s Kanyama and Kalingalinga compounds, the study sites for the vaccine trial, attended the workshop, which was aimed at strengthening community engagement and advocacy capacity on TB treatment.

The trial also called TB 018, is being jointly conducted by Aeras and GlaxoSmithkline Vaccines, S.A. (GSK), and is a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled study. Overall, the trial will enrol more than 3500 healthy adults, with latent (asymptomatic) TB infection (LTBI), ages 18-50 in three sub-Saharan African countries namely Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa.IMG_4453

Zambart has been conducting various clinical trials in TB in Zambia and beyond, for over 2 decades now.