Aimalohi Agnes Ahonkhai, MD, MPH

2015 DICP Faculty Fellowship Recipient

AIMALOHI AGNES AHONKHAI, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Mentor: Kenneth A. Freedberg, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Division of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital; Director, Program in Epidemiology and Outcomes Research at the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)

Department Chair:  Stephen B. Calderwood, MD, Morton N. Swartz, MD Academy Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician and Chief, Division of Infectious Disease, Vice-Chair, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Project Title: “Understanding the Clinical and Societal Impact of Re-introducing User Fees for HIV Care in Nigeria”

Project Description:

Nigeria is the most populous African nation, and home to the second largest number of people with HIV/AIDS in the world (3.2 million).1 Scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and clinical services has led to unprecedented progress with 19 million people on ART worldwide, over 600,000 in Nigeria, and markedly decreased mortality. With recent leveling off of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), there has been increasing pressure on country governments to fund programs. One approach gaining traction is charging patient user fees to offset program costs.

I have launched a multi-disciplinary international research program, “Care4Life”, focused on improving retention to HIV care in Nigeria. This collaboration has successfully leveraged the scope and resources of AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN), a national, multi-site HIV treatment network with strong infrastructure and a robust electronic program database. This unique cohort provides the opportunity to quantify the clinical and economic consequences of shifts in cost allocation from funders to patients by 1) measuring the impact of introducing user fees for HIV care in Nigeria on individual patient care utilization and clinical outcomes; and 2) using micro-simulation methods to project the broader national impact of user fees for HIV care on life expectancy, disease transmission, and total cost of care.


Dr. Aimalohi Ahonkhai completed her undergraduate training in biological anthropology at Harvard College and obtained her MD from Johns Hopkins University. She completed her residency in internal medicine and MPH at Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Public Health. Committed to optimizing clinical outcomes for marginalized HIV patients, Dr. Ahonkhai received training in clinical infectious disease at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. She has focused her research efforts on implementation research in Sub-Saharan Africa. With collaborators in Nigeria, she established the Care4Life Program, a multidisciplinary initiative to study and improve retention in HIV care. This program has highlighted high rates of unplanned care interruption in this setting and its association with poor CD4 response and virologic outcomes, in addition to disparate clinical outcomes among HIV-infected youth. Dr. Ahonkhai’s goal is to design novel care delivery interventions to improve the quality of HIV care.