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US Commits $65bn to HIV/AIDS Response Globally – Entwistle

Kayode Sesan

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, yesterday disclosed that his country through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), committed nearly $65billion to support the HIV/AIDS response globally.

The envoy made the remarks on the occasion of World AIDS Day commemoration held at the US Embassy in Abuja.
He noted that since 2004, the year PEPFAR began in Nigeria, the programme had provided more than $4.2billion to support the Nigerian HIV/AIDS response.

Entwistle added that contrary to some recent reports in the media, United States was not stopping PEPFAR funding to Nigeria.

“We do anticipate some reduction in the overall budget.  We will continue to focus our services in areas with the greatest HIV burden and will support the most effective interventions.

“Our continued commitment to support the Nigerian government and its people remains strong.

“Indeed, as we are discussing with the new Nigerian administration, we think it important that the contribution of your government to our joint health partnership increase,” he said.

The envoy stressed that PEPFAR was the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease.
The ambassador reiterated that “the lives touched and the people saved offer testimony to PEPFAR’s successes in Nigeria.

“Some measures of progress include the nearly 600,000 people currently on HIV treatment.  In the past year, nearly 8.6 million people have received HIV counseling and testing services.

“Prevention messages and activities have reached over 300,000 people identified as most at-risk.  Approximately, 55,000 pregnant women have received antiretroviral drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

“Also, 750,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have received care services.

“Finally, more than one million children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS have received care and support.”
According to him, earlier this year, President Obama set a bold course for PEPFAR by announcing new HIV prevention and treatment targets for 2016 and 2017.

He noted that by the end of 2017, PEPFAR would support 12.9 million people with life-saving treatment.

“PEPFAR also aims to reduce HIV incidence by 40 percent among adolescent girls and young women.

“We invite and challenge Nigerian government leaders, scientists, civil society, faith-based organisations, and the private sector to join together in solidarity to bring this unrelenting epidemic to a halt.

“We can create an AIDS-free generation where no one is left behind, but we must continue working together to make that happen.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the university students and other young people across Nigeria who participated in the US Mission’s art contest.

“The contest promoted artistic self-expression on HIV/AIDS and serves as another platform to engage with young Nigerians dealing with the immense burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic” Entwistle said.

He, however, added that achieving the goals to end HIV/AIDS will not be easy, but  “we all must share responsibility and strengthen our efforts.

“Working in partnership, we have come a very long way since the worst days of the epidemic, but the work is far from done.  Indeed, the time to act is now.”



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Copyright 2015 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant sources.

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