Windhoek - Namibia’s fight against HIV and AIDS received a shot in the arm in the form of an US$89 million injection from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
United States Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said the package was in addition to the US$81 million already extended through PEPFAR in 2020.
Ambassador Johnson said, “Namibia is a global leader in nearing epidemic control. Ninety-five percent of people with HIV know their status. Ninety-five percent of people with HIV who know their status are on treatment. And 92 percent of the people on treatment take their medications regularly and are ‘virally suppressed,’ meaning the virus is not detectable and cannot be transmitted,” she said.
Ambassador Johnson went on: “Over the next year, we also will use innovative technology to empower people to more easily get their anti-retroviral drugs (ART). Pele boxes – code secured lockers - will be installed in five high volume health facilities and will allow patients to pick up their ART’s in under two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This new technology will also decongest clinics, which is very important, especially while we live with COVID-19.
“In short, in 2021 we are redoubling our efforts in the fight against HIV. The HIV fight is for all of us. I want to thank the Namibian government and the Ministry of Health and Social Services for our continued strong partnership. Together we will reach HIV epidemic control.”
PEPFAR Co-ordinator in Namibia Ms Carey Spear said the funds would also drive the DREAMS programme.
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 co-ordinator explained.
“Finding those at high risk of contracting HIV and getting them on treatment is imperative in 2021. Men who have sex with men, sex workers, and transgender persons are considered key populations and are among some of those at higher risk of getting HIV,” Ms Spear said.