The JCRC Fort Portal Regional Centre of Excellence (RCE) was established in 2003 as collaboration between the Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital (FPRRH) and the JCRC. The purpose was to support regional HIV/AIDS health care, research, and training needs in this part of Western Uganda. This was during the implementation of the PEPFAR/USAID funded “The Regional Expansion of Antiretroviral Therapy (TREAT) program. This program, which was implemented by JCRC, run from 2003-2010 and it was during this time that the JCRC set up regional centre/hub and spoke system for the scale up of provision of ART in Uganda.
The site is located within Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital (FPRRH) in Kabarole district, Western Uganda. The hospital has a catchment area of six districts with a total population of over 2 million population. It also serves parts of the neighbouring Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The site together with FPRRH have 10,000 active clients in HIV care with a viral suppression rate of 87% and a retention rate of 89%, allowing for timely recruitment of the CARES study participants. The site has a team of well trained and experienced staff in HIV/AIDS care, including doctors, clinical officers, nurses, pharmacists and laboratory staff. Since its inception, the site has been involved in 12 collaborative research projects including the CARES trial. The site has several infrastructures that support research including a research pharmacy, teleconferencing facilities and a laboratory with services including biochemistry, microbiology, haematology and a repository that stores samples even in vapor phase liquid nitrogen.
JCRC Fort Portal has successfully implemented a number of collaborative HIV research projects.
This site was the first to recruit a participant in the CARES trial and continues to follow up 68 participants with zero attrition rate after 18 months.