HJFMRI supports Project Phidisa, established in 2003 as a partnership between the U.S. and the South Africa National Defence Force (SANDF). The program continues its primary objectives of:
- providing treatment to qualified HIV-positive SANDF members and their dependents as part of a clinical trial
- answering research questions relevant to South Africa on the use of antiretroviral therapy
- building capacity within South African Military Health Service to allow the conduct of research on other diseases of importance to military preparedness.
The program has branched out from four sites near Pretoria and in Cape Town, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces to the Free State and Limpopo provinces.
Currently, more than 100 South African and U.S. staff members handle clinical operations, data management, IT support, laboratory and pharmacy duties, regulatory affairs, and training. We help recruit talented and qualified staff as well as assist with transportation and planning necessary for training.
Over the years, progress has been made on combating HIV infections and the use of combinations of antiretroviral drugs has yielded progress. While sub-Saharan Africa remains the most heavily affected region in the global HIV epidemic with 23.5 million people living with HIV, the rate of infection has been cut by 41 percent in South Africa.
Project Phidisa hosts annual conferences across South Africa focused on developing sustainable future plans and reviewing lessons learned. Results from the research have been shared in peer-reviewed journals and oral presentations at major international HIV/AIDS conferences.
In 2012, the collection of research data ended and all patients were transferred to the care of the South African Military Health Service. The project will continue by concentrating on researching current data, with the hope of publishing the results of multiple studies.