About Us

Mission of the Centre for HIV Strategic Information is to contribute to increasing capacities in the implementation of effective, sustainable and context-specific surveillance systems for HIV, which enable evidence-based development of HIV prevention, care and treatment.


The Centre for HIV Strategic Information is based at the Andrija Štampar School of Public Health, which is part of the University of Zagreb School of Medicine. The Centre was established as a  Knowledge Hub in 2003 under the framework of the Project “Capability Strengthening for Improved Utilization of Financial Resources to Fight HIV/AIDS” and funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and WHO EURO. The central objective of this initiative was to support countries in the optimal access to and use of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and other large grants through supporting the development of local technical capacity in launching large-scale responses to HIV. The Knowledge Hub was designated the WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV Surveillance in March 2008. The first training courses were provided during 2004. Until July 2018, over 2300 participants from 105 countries have been trained in HIV surveillance.

Countries where training
participants came from

The staff and collaborators

Ivana Božičević, MD, MSc, DrPH

Her responsibilities at the Centre for HIV Strategic Information include surveillance-related research, training courses development and provision of technical assistance. Ivana holds an MSc in Public Health and a doctorate in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London where she is currently a staff member on a distance-learning MSc in Public Health. She has done country-level work on HIV and STI strategic information systems for WHO and other UN agencies, and research in HIV epidemiology in a number of countries - Ukraine, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Tanzania, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Lesotho and Bangladesh. She has published extensively on HIV and STI epidemiology and prevention and has co-authored several WHO guidelines on HIV surveillance and programme evaluation.

George W. Rutherford, MD

Salvatore Pablo Lucia Professor of Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine, Pediatrics and History and Head of the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco. Educated at Stanford University and Duke University School of Medicine, he is board certified in pediatrics and general preventive medicine and public health. His expertise is in the epidemiology and control of communicable diseases of public health significance with a focus on HIV, Ebola virus and Zika virus infection in low- and middle-income countries. Dr. Rutherford serves as an advisor to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. He has been involved in the public health response to SARS-CoV-2 since the earliest days of the pandemic.

Zoran Dominković

Zoran's responsibilities include developing training courses, lecturing and providing technical assistance. Since 2006, Zoran has worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Somaliland on HIV surveillance, most often providing technical support in setting up surveys using respondent driven sampling and data analysis. He is currently a candidate for Master’s degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Additionally, he works at the Croatian LGBT organization on HIV programme for MSM, where he is a research and education coordinator, leading several projects in research, community education, prevention and community-based HIV testing. He is also a member of the Croatian National HIV Committee and a member of the European AIDS Treatment Group.

Snježana Židovec Lepej, PhD

Dr. Židovec Lepej is a Senior Scientific Associate at the University of Zagreb Medical School. She is also the Head of Laboratory for Molecular Diagnostics and Cellular Immunity at the University Hospital for Infectious Diseases „Dr. Fran Mihaljević“ in Zagreb, Croatia. She graduated molecular biology at the Faculty for Natural Sciences, University of Zagreb. She worked in biotechnological company Institute of Immunology, Zagreb as a Head of Interferon Department. Her Master of Science thesis included research on cytokine synthesis in vitro. Her PhD thesis included analysis of the kinetics of immune reconstitution in HIV-patients receiving HAART. Her scientific interests include molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases and immunology. She is the principal investigator of the scientific project „Immune reconstitution and resistance to antiretrovirals in HIV-patients in Croatia“ supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport, Republic of Croatia.

Damir Ivanković, MD, MBA

Damir is a Public Health Resident at the Division of Health Informatics and Biostatistics of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (CIPH). His current activities at the Centre include lecturing on training courses organised in Zagreb. In CIPH, he is involved with both operational and research work related to health policy, biostatistics, eHealth and management of public health data and information and its use in decision and policy-making on a national and EU level. He is also actively involved in the educational and research work through the Croatian Society for Public Health (EUPHA member), especially with topics related to health service research and evidence-based policy making. Additionally, public health related activities include 2017 president position in the European Network of Medical Residents in Public Health (EuroNet MRPH). He also works at a local LGBT voluntary counselling and testing centre in Zagreb.

Dr Oktavija Rode, MSc

Dr Rode, a specialist in medical microbiology and parasitology, is the Head of Division of serological diagnostic at the University Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Zagreb. Her Master of Science thesis included research on antibodies for herpesviruses and Toxoplasma gondii in HIV-infected patients in Croatia.

Kristina Sekulić, MD, MHA, Epidemiologist

Kristina is a staff member at the Department of Epidemiology of the Karlovac County Institute of Public Health (KCIPH), where she works in the field of epidemiology of both infectious and chronic non-infectious diseases. She is also the head of the KCIH Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Centre. She completed a postgraduate course in Leadership and Management of Health Services at Andrija Stampar School of Public Health. In her thesis, she focused on the improvement of the healthcare needs assessment process in the Karlovac County. Kristina is also a coordinator and counsellor at a local community-based VCT centre run by Iskorak, an NGO involved in various aspects of LGBT rights, including research, education and advocacy. At the Centre, she is a lecturer at training courses organised in Zagreb.

Professor Stjepan Orešković, PhD

The responsibility of professor Orešković is to ensure coherence and quality in the activities, and overall leadership in terms of organisation and accountability for performance of the work plan. His role is to shape the direction and management of the Centre with particular reference to identifying opportunities for development. Professor Orešković has a PhD in behavioural sciences and was one of the first researchers on epidemiology of HIV and hepatitis in Croatia.

Professor Aleksandar Stulhofer, PhD

Head of Sexology Unit at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb and Affiliated Faculty of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. His recent research focuses of HIV risk taking in vulnerable groups. He did country-level work in Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosova, and Iran. Dr Stulhofer is member of the International Academy of Sex Research.

Jurja-Ivana Adamsky, MD

Jurja's responsibilities at the Centre for HIV Surveillance include lecturing, development of training courses, provision of technical assistance and participation on international projects related to HIV strategic information in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Jurja Ivana has done country-level work on HIV epidemiology and prevention in Ukraine, Albania, Belarus, North Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Iran and Indonesia. As part of the Centre work, she lead HIV data synthesis project at the national and sub-national level in Ukraine, in collaboration with University of California, San Francisco and US CDC the triangulation project in Ukraine. She speaks English fluently and uses German and Italian language.

Professor Josip Begovac, PhD, MD

Dr. Begovac is Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Zagreb Medical School. He is also Vice Chair of the HIV Prevention Committee of the Government of Croatia and the Head of the Reference Centre of HIV at the University Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Zagreb, Croatia. Educated at University of Zagreb Medical School, he specialized in infectious diseases at the University Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Zagreb. He has worked primary in infectious diseases and during his last 10 years was mainly involved in public health and clinical issues concerning HIV/AIDS.

Senad Handanagić, MD, MSc

Senad has joined the Centre in 2011. He lead design development and implementation of respondent-driven sampling surveys on HIV and viral hepatitis in three cities in Croatia in 2014-2015. He participated in technical assistance projects in Myanmar, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Senad graduated from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine and has an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Jelena Barbarić, MD, MSc, PhD

Jelena’s activities at the Centre include lecturing, grant applications, as well as participation in research and technical assistance projects. She has worked on a number of HIV and STI-related projects in countries including Armenia, Croatia, Lao PDR, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. In addition, she has contributed to several WHO meetings/technical consultations (global and regional) in Croatia, Lebanon, Georgia and Kazakhstan in preparatory research, as a speaker and/or facilitator. Jelena graduated from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, with the final semester completed at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. She holds an MSc in International Health Management from the Imperial College London and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine. Her broader research and clinical interests include global skin, sexual and mental health.

Valerio Baćak, PhD

Valerio Baćak, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. In 2015, he graduated with a PhD in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Valerio also holds an AM degree in Statistics from the Wharton School and a MSc in Sociology from the University of Oxford. He studies how offending and contact with the criminal justice system are related to health. His other lines of research include youth sexuality, health disparities, the social epidemiology of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable populations, and quantitative methods. Originally from Croatia, Valerio has extensive international experience conducting research in resource-limited settings. Since 2005, he consulted on public health projects for various United Nations organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Azerbaijan, West Bank and Gaza, and Iraq. His work has appeared in journals across disciplines, such as Social Problems, Social Science and Medicine, and Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

Advisory Board

The Centre is supported and advised on its work by the International Advisory Board which enables our programme to be developed in collaboration with a range of experts coming from academic institutions, UN agencies and national surveillance institutions.

Professor George Rutherford, MD, Director

Prevention and Public Health Group, Global Health Sciences University of California, San Francisco, USA
Head of the International Advisory Board

Dr Jesus Maria Garcia Calleja

Department of HIV/AIDS, WHO Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland

Dr Tatiana Smolskaya, Director

North-West Regional AIDS Center, Institut Pasteur in Saint Petersburg St Petersburg, Russian Federation

Dr Martin C. Donoghoe, Programme Manager

HIV/AIDS, STIs and Viral Hepatitis Programme at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Copenhagen, Denmark

Tetyana Salyuk, Programme Manager

Research and Evaluation, ICF International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine Kyiv, Ukraine


Many of our activities have been done in collaboration with the numerous partners which include the WHO, GIZ, UNAIDS, European Commission, UNDP, University of California, San Francisco, Public Health England, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  WHO Collaborating Centre on HIV and Viral Hepatitis based at the University of Kopenhagen, and several institutions in Croatia – University Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Faculty for Arts and Humanities, Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and Croatian Institute for Public Health. These partnerships have resulted in achieving synergies in work and  further strengthening of research and teaching capacities.