From Promise to Performance: Scaling Up the National Response

ACONDA’s innovative approach links clinic-based HIV testing and treatment to community- and home-based prevention, care, treatment adherence, and psycho-social and nutritional support.

In 2002, 25 health professionals in Cote d’Ivoire set out to turn the promise of HIV research into a lifesaving reality. They called themselves ACONDA-VS and opened a clinic in one of Abidjan’s poorest districts.

Four years later, ACONDA is helping lead the nationwide fight against HIV/AIDS with a comprehensive, family-centered approach that extends from counseling and testing (CT) and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and home-based medical and psychosocial care.

Its spectacular performance as a sub-partner boosted the Emergency Plan’s main PMTCT and ART project past its five-year goals within 18 months and helped ACONDA graduate to EP prime-partner status in September 2006.

“The evolution of ACONDA is a triumph and a dream realized,” says director Dr. Toure Siaka, 41. “Our vision of HIV/AIDS care has come to life before my very eyes, step by step.”

From its modest beginnings, ACONDA has built public- and private-sector partnerships to support its integration of HIV care and treatment into health centers and hospitals in Abidjan and other cities. As of September 2006, ACONDA was using EP funding to provide ART for 6,397 patients at 20 sites and had provided CT for 12,696 people and palliative care for 21,724 patients. In 2007, in addition to extending its training for health providers, ACONDA plans to open 10 new sites and provide CT for 35,784, palliative care for 49,310, and ART for 10,300 new patients, for a total of 22,800 patients treated with ART, including 2,280 children.

Its holistic approach includes promotion of CT for patients’ families, adherence support in the home, sub-grants for community-based support, promotion of “positive living,” and nutritional support.

“It’s very moving,” says Toure, “to have people I don’t know stop me to thank me for saving their lives.”