Einstein to Utilize Electronic Medical Records System to Analyze HIV/AIDS in Central Africa

September 8, 2011 — (BRONX, NY) — In 2004, the global community acted in earnest to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. As a result, millions of Africans are now receiving the same advanced antiretroviral therapy (ART) that has long been available in the developed world. While research shows that AIDS death rates in Africa have stabilized, little is known about the actual deployment and circumstances of treatment.

Kathryn Anastos, M.D.
Kathryn Anastos, M.D.
A consortium led by Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has received a $4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to spearhead the Central Africa International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS (CA-IeDEA). CA-IeDEA researchers will work directly with the governments of Burundi and Cameroon, as well as with non-governmental organizations in Rwanda, to collect and analyze the data of nearly 40,000 patients on ART.

The International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) is a research consortium established in 2005 to address the unique and evolving questions in global HIV/AIDS research through regional and intra-regional observational data. Kathryn Anastos, M.D., co-director of Einstein's Global Health Center and co-principal investigator of the grant, and her team will be among the global team analyzing and publishing on the data produced. One of only seven IeDEA centers around the world, CA-IeDEA will create a robust and flexible database that will enable researchers to examine the real-world practice and results of ART – including its impact on reducing cancer and interactions of HIV with other major, deadly diseases that afflict the region, such as malaria.

"Central Africa is a unique region that presents its own set of challenges for effective HIV/AIDS treatment and positive patient outcomes," said Dr. Anastos. "By working with government health leaders in Burundi and Cameroon, our teams hope to contribute to the global understanding of HIV/AIDS treatment, while also helping to improve the care – and lives – of their residents."

Donald Hoover, Ph.D., of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is co-principal investigator of the grant and will lead and monitor activities pertaining to data development and analysis. Dominic Duggan, Ph.D., of Stevens Institute of Technology, is designing the IT component.

In clinics around Central Africa, the team will deploy and extend OpenMRS, an open-source electronic medical record system that is the focus of a vibrant open-source community. Implementing the system will offer researchers an efficient means to collect consistent data, as well as provide participating clinics in each country with a relatively low-cost healthcare IT solution that the governments may choose to expand as a national initiative.

Dr. Anastos will be responsible for the overall administration and leadership of CA-IeDEA, including developing the research team within each country, building capacity and stimulating epidemiologic brainstorming. As a professor of medicine and of epidemiology & population health at Einstein, she will continue to oversee and lead a range of HIV/AIDS research projects in Rwanda and the Bronx.