In 2000, Botswana had one of the highest rates of HIV worldwide with an estimated 35% HIV-infected adults. Botwana’s then President Festus Mogae even acknowledged at the AIDS Conference held in Durban, South Africa, the same year that his country was “threatened with extinction” due to the high mortality rate. Fifteen years later, HIV prevalence has decreased to 22.2%. Today, Botswana is an example that achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets is indeed a possibility, despite the resource challenged setting and high HIV prevalence. Data from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) study suggest that among the group of HIV positive patients receiving ART that had their HIV viral load monitored, 96% were confirmed to have a suppressed HIV viral load.
Clinical microbiology laboratories are on the front lines of the fight against infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and related opportunistic infections, and in places like Ethiopia, the need for high-quality systems and training is imperative. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), in a key partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-Ethiopia and the Government of Ethiopia, has focused on delivering customized training and mentoring programs to a variety of regional and health research laboratories in Ethiopia since 2011. The goal of this partnership is to control and prevent the spread of HIV-related opportunistic infections in a country that currently reports over 1.2 million cases of the disease, and assist in the diagnosis of other common pathogens.