US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has released the data on HIV epidemic in five African countries — Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe — showing impressive progress towards controlling the HIV epidemics.
“With five African countries approaching control of their HIV epidemics, we have the extraordinary opportunity to change the very course of the HIV pandemic over the next three years,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, Managing Director of US Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy.
According to the new data, in Lesotho the HIV viral load suppression — a key marker of the body successfully controlling the virus — has reached over 67 per cent among all HIV-positive adults ages 15-59.
Uganda’s epidemic has likely stabilised due to increases in coverage of voluntary medical male circumcision for HIV prevention and expansion of HIV treatment, including for HIV-positive pregnant women.
Encouraged by the results, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has released the new PEPFAR strategy for accelerating HIV/AIDS epidemic control (2017-2020).
The strategy talks about the US government supporting HIV/AIDS efforts in more than 50 countries through PEPFAR. It also highlights the significance of access to services by all populations, including the most vulnerable and at-risk groups.
“The findings from the six countries provide a report card on the global and local efforts in confronting the HIV epidemics while at the same time help in shaping a blueprint for their future course as they continue their quest to stem this epidemic,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, Director of the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programmes and Director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiologic Research (CIDER) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
“The gaps identified in reaching young women and men are relevant to many other countries around the world, and addressing them is critically important to achieving the ultimate goal of ending this epidemic,” she said.