Facing the Enemy
The term “SWAT Team” sparks images of highly trained police officers dealing with the most dangerous situations.
But the members of this SWAT team don’t have a background in law enforcement. Instead of tactical weapons, their ammunition is knowledge. And the enemy they’re fighting isn’t a bank robber, but a different sort of villain: the high rate of HIV infection in Kenya, where more than a third of the 1.5 million people infected are unaware of their HIV status.
The SWAT teams are the brainchild of AMPATH (The Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare), a partnership between Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (both in Western Kenya), and a consortium of North American academic health centers led by Indiana University.
Since 2001, the Eldoret, Kenya-based group has been instrumental in addressing the nation’s HIV/AIDS crisis. As of 2016, the partnership has reached more than 1.5 million people, and increased the percentage of HIV-positive people in care (among those who know their status) from 93.8 percent in 2014 to 99.3 percent in 2016.