Data Collection Begins for First PHIA Survey

The groundbreaking Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) survey enrolled its first participants on October 18th, with 12 ZIMPHIA field teams kicking off data collection in the northern region of Zimbabwe.

ZIMPHIA is part of the PHIA Project, a five-year, multi-country initiative funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and led by ICAP at Columbia. The PHIA Project consists of household-based, population surveys that will collect information related to HIV in approximately 15 to 20 African countries. Each survey, beginning with ZIMPHIA, will collect information and conduct laboratory tests in order to estimate the magnitude of the HIV epidemic in adults and children and to measure access to prevention, care and treatment services in each country.

“ZIMPHIA will allow Zimbabwe to gain a deeper understanding of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done in the future,” said Dr. Jessica Justman, principal investigator and senior technical director at ICAP. “ZIMPHIA, and the PHIA Project as a whole, will provide critical evidence that will guide HIV programs over the next decade.”

Dr. Owen Mugurungi, Director of the AIDS and TB Unit in the Government of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care, announced the survey’s launch in the Mbire District of Mashonaland Central Province, saying, “ZIMPHIA survey data collection has started, marking a very important milestone in our HIV response efforts as a country.” Dr. Mugurungi noted that this survey will be the first of its kind to be conducted in the country. “We are expecting a smooth survey and look forward to high rates of participation by the population,” added Dr. Mugurungi.

ZIMPHIA teams will visit 15,000 randomly selected households across Zimbabwe and administer tablet-based questionnaires to consenting household members. Survey participants receive HIV and syphilis testing and counseling, with immediate return of results, all provided with privacy in each participant’s home. Participants who test positive are referred to their preferred health care facility for treatment.

Zimbabwe’s success in responding to the HIV epidemic has been the result of well-coordinated efforts at the national level. Both the Zimbabwe and U.S. governments are enthusiastic about the ZIMPHIA survey and their continued collaboration supporting the country’s HIV response. The survey is supported by substantial resources provided by PEPFAR with additional resources provided by the Government of Zimbabwe and the Global Fund.

“This is a historic and timely effort. It will provide critical information to inform the next phase of the global response to the HIV epidemic,” added Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP director.

ZIMPHIA, a Government of Zimbabwe initiative, is being implemented in partnership the Biomedical Research and Training Institute of Zimbabwe and Lancet Laboratories. The PHIA Project partners include, in addition to ICAP, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, ICF International, Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco’s Global Health Sciences and Westat, Inc.

Founded in 2003, ICAP at Columbia University supports programs and research that address major health issues such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and child health and non-communicable diseases. ICAP works in collaboration with partners around the world to support high-performing health system strengthening initiatives and implements innovative and sustainable health solutions. ICAP, situated at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, works in partnership with governmental and non-governmental organizations across 21 countries.