Recognizing the 10th anniversary of the U.S. President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by Chargé d’Affaires Cheryl Sim
This year, the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan marks the tenth anniversary of the creation of the President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR is the U.S. Government initiative to help save and improve the lives of those suffering from or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS around the world. In Cote d’Ivoire, PEPFAR has donated nearly one billion dollars since 2003 to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In the last ten years, the face of HIV/AIDS in Africa has changed substantially. Ten years ago, AIDS was truly a death sentence. It threatened the very foundation of societies – creating millions of orphans, stalling economic development and leaving countries stuck in poverty.
Today worldwide, as a result of the unwavering commitment by the U.S. and its partners, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. Globally, new HIV infections have declined nearly 19 percent over the past decade, and AIDS-related mortality has decreased by 26 percent since its peak in 2005. In sub-Saharan Africa, progress has been even more dramatic, with new infections down by 33 percent over the past decade, and AIDS-related mortality declining by 32 percent since its peak in 2005. In addition, this summer marked the occasion of PEPFAR saving one million babies from becoming infected with HIV due to preventative treatment.
Since PEPFAR began in Cote d’Ivoire in 2003, PEPFAR has become the largest donor to the health care sector, contributing over $800 million. Coupled with the current year’s budget of $140 million, that means PEPFAR has contributed nearly a billion dollars in just ten years to the health of Ivoirians. This investment has not only supported HIV/AIDS treatment, but it also has strengthened the public health care sector, allowing for increased lab capacity and better treatment for other life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis. This in turn has supported other sectors such as education, defense and social welfare.
The U.S. Government is by far the largest supporter of HIV/AIDS efforts in Cote d’Ivoire, contributing approximately 75 percent of all international funds dedicated to fight the disease in the country. PEPFAR works through 40 partners, including the Ivoirian government and more than 200 local sub-partners working to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care services and related systems support throughout the country.
In Cote d’Ivoire, nearly a million people a year are now tested for HIV at more than 800 different testing centers around the country. In 2004, fewer than 4,000 people living with HIV received PEPFAR-funded antiretroviral treatments (ART). Today, more than 87,000 people living with HIV are receiving PEPFAR-funded ART at more than 388 treatment sites. In addition, more than 125,000 at-risk and orphaned children are receiving care and support.
However, despite all the progress made to date, challenges still remain. Considering that in Cote d’Ivoire the virus is transmitted primarily through sexual contact and from HIV-positive mother-to-child at birth or breastfeeding, HIV testing and prophylaxis for pregnant women is essential. In addition, education to prevent high risk behavior is critical, in particular ensuring access to prevention services for people living with HIV, and promoting the use of condoms. We also encourage the Government of Cote d’Ivoire to redouble efforts to reduce the practice and acceptability of intergenerational relationships, and protect young girls from sexual predators who contribute to early pregnancies and expose them to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
By fighting AIDS, we are supporting the foundation of healthy, productive and stable societies in which countries can better care for their own people — not just today, but over the long term. As we look to the future in Cote d’Ivoire, we will continue to work closely with the government to ensure that national funding for HIV/AIDS and health care continues to increase. We need active partnerships with civil society and the private sector, so the foundation of the response is solid enough to reach those who are the most vulnerable, and the country is able to effectively achieve an AIDS-free generation.
For more information about PEPFAR efforts around the world, please visit http://french.cotedivoire.usembassy.gov/plan_durgence2.html.