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Tanzania

The Walter Reed Program Tanzania (WRP-T)/ Henry M. Jackson Foundation Medical Research International (HJFMRI) is a comprehensive HIV/AIDS research and prevention program based in the southern highlands region of Tanzania. Over the years, the program has also grown to include the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), enhancing malaria diagnostics capabilities and expertise in Tanzania.

Since 1999, MHRP has worked with local collaborators to advance research into an effective HIV vaccine and promote HIV prevention. Research is conducted in partnership with the National Institute of Medical Research, the University of Munich (LMU), the Mbeya Regional Medical Office, and the Mbeya Referral Hospital. Together, these collaborating institutions form the Mbeya Medical Research Center (MMRC).

HVTN

In 2014, the site was selected as a part of MHRP’s Clinical Trial Unit to receive funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to join the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) and conduct research. In 2016, the site began HVTN 703 (AMP Study), a Phase I study testing broad and potent monoclonal antibody (bNAb) VRC01 for HIV prevention. This site will also take part in HVTN vaccine research trials that build upon the success of the RV144 HIV vaccine trial, which was led by MHRP in Thailand.

Ongoing research studies: 

•    RV217 (ECHO): HIV-1 Prevalence, Incidence, Cohort Retention, and Host Genetics and Viral Diversity in High Risk Cohorts in East Africa 

•    Infectious Disease Surveillance (HIV, TB and Malaria) and Cohort Development Among Urban and Rural Communities 

•    Karolinska Institute vaccine study in Tanzania testing a prime-boost HIV vaccine regimen using unadjuvanted DNA vaccines followed by a Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA), which was developed by MHRP and NIAID. This HIV vaccine research study is being conducted in collaboration with Muhimbili University (MUHAS).

Research activities are supported by an active Community Advisory Board (CAB), which was created in 2005 as part of an effort to facilitate dialogue between community members, study volunteers and the research team.

MHRP has supported both the Tanzania Peoples Defence Force (TPDF) and communities in Tanzania’s southern highlands to fight HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR programs since 2004. 

The program’s integrated approach to HIV/AIDS care, treatment, and prevention allows the WRP-T to offer a range of services that address transmission, co-infections and overall health and nutrition.

Program Highlights: 

The civilian program serves the 6 million residents of Tanzania’s southern highlands, providing support for the Mbeya Referral Hospital (MRH) and four Regional Medical Offices located in Mbeya, Ruvuma, Rukwa, and Katavi. The Mbeya region in Tanzania is a remote, rural area that encompasses two major highways and is adjacent to two international borders. In the late 1980s, the HIV epidemic rapidly expanded in the Mbeya region, fueled by these unique geographic features and exacerbated by a lack of trained health staff, shortage of medicine, and a poor healthcare infrastructure.

PEPFAR Research 

The WRP-T PEPFAR program conducts investigations to determine the impact program interventions and services have in combatting HIV/AIDS in the region. 

The department also conducts Basic Program Evaluations (BPEs) and Impact Evaluations (IEs) to inform program leaders of the best way to allocate available resources. The research team aims to increase awareness around the pathogenesis and transmission of HIV while also supporting the development of combination HIV therapies for co-infections, like tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV/AIDS. At the Mbeya Referral Hospital (MRH), WRP-T supports one of the few accredited TB laboratories in the country. The modern Biosafety level 3 TB culture laboratory ushers in a new era in the diagnosis of TB and other critical life saving laboratory services among HIV clients in the southern highlands regions.

Current PEPFAR Research: 

•    African Cohort Study (AFRICOS) is a large, long-term cohort study at multiple African sites that will evaluate HIV prevention, care and treatment services it supports through local facilities, funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

•    RV143: Infectious Disease Surveillance (HIV, TB and Malaria) and Cohort Development among Urban and Rural Adults in Mbeya Municipality, Tanzania.