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March 30, 2011

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An Update on PEPFAR in Côte d’Ivoire

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (Cross-posted from the State Department Blog)

PEPFAR

The situation in Côte d'Ivoire is extremely precarious and volatile, yet the U.S. government remains committed to supporting Côte d'Ivoire's fight against HIV/AIDS through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has a long history of working in Côte d'Ivoire and other countries in conflict. In these settings, PEPFAR partners have exhibited incredible courage and dedication, working in challenging environments to ensure HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and care services.

In the face of the current circumstances in Côte d'Ivoire, PEPFAR partners have led heroic efforts to keep life-saving programs running. I am committed to doing everything in my power to continue to support PEPFAR's vital work. My colleagues and I take this duty extremely seriously, as we recognize that the lives of people depend on our continued support for essential services.

At PEPFAR, we are working to find real solutions to the variety of challenges our partners are facing in Côte d'Ivoire. Unfortunately, with the reports of spreading violence and instability, the safety of partners and program beneficiaries is a major concern.

Continue reading "An Update on PEPFAR in Côte d’Ivoire" »

March 24, 2011

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World Tuberculosis Day: Fighting the TB/HIV Epidemics Through PEPFAR

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (Cross-posted from the State Department Blog)

PEPFAR

Today, we join the international community in recognizing World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. Addressing TB is a major part of the work of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as TB is the most common opportunistic infection and the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that of the 9.4 million cases of TB worldwide, 1.1 million of these individuals were also infected with HIV. Nearly 80 percent of TB/HIV co-infections are found in the Africa region, and PEPFAR has invested heavily in hard-hit countries.

With support from PEPFAR, countries have made extensive strides in expanding the number of TB patients also tested for HIV, and enrolling HIV-infected TB patients into HIV care and treatment. In FY 2009, PEPFAR provided direct support to care for more than 308,700 TB/HIV co-infected people in PEPFAR countries, mostly in Africa. Moreover, with support through PEPFAR, 53 percent of TB patients in Africa knew their HIV status, and an estimated 140,000 TB/HIV patients were on antiretroviral treatment.

Other recent developments give me optimism about our international partnerships to address TB/HIV in the future. First, I am pleased to announce that PEPFAR will provide $20 million in special one-time funding to develop and initiate an innovative, integrated TB/HIV care package in targeted countries with a significant burden of TB/HIV co-infection. Overall, PEPFAR will provide $160 million in resources to combat TB/HIV, funds that complement broader PEPFAR investments to benefit co-infected populations.

Continue reading "World Tuberculosis Day: Fighting the TB/HIV Epidemics Through PEPFAR" »

March 19, 2011

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PEPFAR Programs Support African Efforts to Fight Global AIDS

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (Cross-posted from the State Department Blog)

PEPFAR

I just returned from a visit to three African nations, where I saw encouraging gains in the fight against HIV. In these countries, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is enabling countries to take leadership of the fight against HIV for their people.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, I was part of a U.S. delegation that met with representatives from medical schools from a dozen sub-Saharan African countries participating in the African-led, U.S.-supported Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) inaugural meeting. These schools are part of a collaboration that will lead the way in transforming and enhancing medical education within their countries and building a network across Africa. By doing so, we will be supporting an increase in both the quantity and quality of professional health care workers in the region.

Through PEPFAR, the U.S. will provide about $130 million in MEPI grants that are awarded directly to African institutions, including two in South Africa. By providing grants directly to African institutions and supporting their partnerships with U.S. and international medical schools and universities, we support their leadership in developing programs that will train and retain future health care leaders, and tailoring education to meet the needs of the populations they serve. In some cases, the opportunities for medical faculty to continue their professional development and engage in research are powerful incentives to remain in their countries and promote excellence in medical education and practice. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), joined me at this MEPI meeting to highlight NIH's contribution through additional linked awards that will help support new professionals and faculty to develop expertise in research.

Continue reading "PEPFAR Programs Support African Efforts to Fight Global AIDS" »

March 16, 2011

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Moving Forward on Gender: PEPFAR’s Plans

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (Cross-posted from the State Department Blog)

PEPFAR

This past week, we celebrated International Women's Day. According to the World Health Organization, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women between the ages of 15-44, and nearly 60 percent of the people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women. Throughout the week, PEPFAR highlighted its work in addressing gender and the needs of women in this epidemic.

Last week's celebrations of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day allowed us to take stock and reflect on the progress we've made in advancing the health and rights of women and girls around the world, as well as the work we still have to do. We looked at the role of prevention of mother-to-child transmission on women's lives. We reflected on the tragedy of gender-based violence (GBV) and its relationship to HIV, describing PEPFAR's bold strategy and an innovative partnership with the private sector to eliminate violence against girls. We described the impact of PEPFAR's Gender Challenge Fund.

In order to sustain and expand the gains we've made to date, we need to ensure that gender is included as an integral part of all of our programming. As part of the Global Health Initiative, PEPFAR is committed to implementing programs that have a focus on women, girls, and gender equality. This means ensuring that our programs provide prevention, treatment and care that meet the needs of women and girls, such as linking HIV testing and treatment to antenatal care. However, meeting our goals around prevention, care, and treatment of HIV also requires PEPFAR to address the factors that create particular vulnerability for women and girls -- gender-based violence (GBV), lack of economic and educational opportunity, and social norms that limit access to information and care.

Throughout the year, PEPFAR programs are working to target gender inequality that causes HIV risks. Some examples include:

Including women in the planning and implementation of projects. Programs intended to meet the needs of women are designed in consultation with the women that will be clients of these programs. Through Raising Voices in Uganda, for example, PEPFAR is supporting a model of community mobilization around an HIV and GBV prevention program. Women and girls are involved in both the design and monitoring of this project, which trains women to identify and change community norms.

Empowering adolescent girls. In many countries where PEPFAR works, infection rates among young women are higher than those among young men. In order to address the risk of HIV infection among adolescent girls, PEPFAR is targeting programs to help them get the support needed to help reduce risk. For example, in Ethiopia, PEPFAR is supporting the Biruh Tesfa project. This project seeks to protect the rights of vulnerable urban girls by providing safe spaces and health information, including HIV prevention education. In addition, Biruh Tesfa offers service to girls who have experienced sexual exploitation and abuse. Over 10,000 out-of-school girls have participated in Biruh Tesfa groups in five cities in Ethiopia.

Engaging men and boys as clients, supportive partners and role models. Addressing gender equality requires the involvement of men and boys in changing gender norms. PEPFAR's gender programming includes efforts to target men and enlist them as partners. In Namibia, to cite one example of many, PEPFAR is working to help men understand the positive role they can play in women's lives, and to increase male involvement in prevention activities like HIV testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Our goal with these activities is to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls, but also to produce programs with a greater impact -- programs that involve and meet the needs of the communities in which we work. Doing so creates lasting change that will impact the ability of women and girls to seek and receive care, not only for HIV/AIDS, but for a variety of needs.

March 11, 2011

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PEPFAR’s Gender Challenge Fund: At the Intersection of Gender and HIV

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (Cross-posted from the State Department Blog)

PEPFAR

This week, we celebrate International Women's Day. According to the World Health Organization, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women between the ages of 15-44, and nearly 60 percent of the people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women. Throughout the week, PEPFAR is highlighting its work in addressing gender and the needs of women and girls in this epidemic.
 
Addressing gender issues is essential to reducing the vulnerability of women and men to HIV/AIDS. PEPFAR country programs have consistently included funding for programs to address gender issues. Over the past two years, PEPFAR has also provided over $50 million in central funding to country programs to strengthen gender programming; over $9.5 million of these funds were reserved for an innovative Gender Challenge Fund. 
 
The idea of the Gender Challenge Fund is to make additional resources available to PEPFAR country programs on a matching basis.  This Fund serves as an incentive to leverage country PEPFAR funds to advance key gender related issues and programs within PEPFAR's gender strategy priority areas. These priorities include:

  • Mainstreaming gender issues into PEPFAR service delivery programs;
  • Strengthening programs addressing gender-based violence;
  • Working with men and boys to change norms and behaviors that are harmful to women and girls;
  • Providing economic and education opportunities for women and girls;
  • Enacting legal and policy reform on gender issues.

Continue reading "PEPFAR’s Gender Challenge Fund: At the Intersection of Gender and HIV" »

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