U.S. government increases funding for local HIV fight – US$89 million earmarked for 2021 programme
The country’s HIV prevention, care, and treatment for next year will receive US$89 million from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an official announced this week.
The funding amount is an increase from US$81 million availed by the programme in 2020, said U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson at a media briefing.
“Namibia is a global leader in nearing epidemic control. 95% of people with HIV know their status. 95% of people with HIV who know their status are on treatment. And 92% of the people on treatment take their medications regularly and are ‘virally suppressed,’ meaning the virus is not detectable and cannot be transmitted. Undetectable = Untransmittable,” Ambassador Johnson,” she said.
The 2021 PEPFAR funding, which starts with the U.S. fiscal year on 1 October, 2020, will support Namibia’s health ministry to move those percentages even higher, with a goal of reaching 95-95-95, she added.
At the media briefing, the U.S. Embassy’s PEPFAR Coordinator gave details on the HIV programmes that the $89 million USD of funding will support.
The ‘DREAMS programme’, which stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored and Safe, will double its budget and triple the number of adolescent girls and young women it works with to keep them free from HIV, the PEPFAR Coordinator explained.
Advanced HIV-testing techniques (index testing and recency testing) will uncover hotspots of HIV transmission and allow the Ministry to offer treatment to newly discovered patients to halt onward transmission.
And, PEPFAR will support the MOHSS to keep over 200,000 PLHIV on treatment, most of whom will be eligible to take the advanced TLD medication. TLD medication has fewer side effects, works faster to suppress HIV, and is less likely to develop resistance by HIV than other HIV medications.
Meanwhile U.S. Embassy expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevents (CDC) also spoke at the briefing to explain that PEPFAR programmes had adapted so that they could continue safely during COVID-19.
The U.S government has invested approximately US$1.6 billion in HIV treatment and prevention in Namibia since 2005.