DEMONSTRATING its commitment to the people of Zimbabwe, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched two projects worth a combined US$78 million to provide critical HIV healthcare services for over half a million Zimbabweans.
“The United States is proud to stand with the people of Zimbabwe to address HIV,” stated USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director, Mr. Art Brown.
Together with our partners, USAID is ensuring that people living with HIV can start treatment early, adhere to treatment, reach viral load suppression, and live longer, healthier lives. We are also working to reach 95 percent of the estimated 40,000 female sex workers in Zimbabwe to help reduce HIV infections, provide onsite initiation of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and transfer clients to public sector facilities.”
Together with the Organization for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID), USAID will provide care and treatment services for more than half a million people living with HIV, at 700 health facilities in 24 districts, for the next five years. OPHID will expand client-centered services in facilities and communities and train more than 12,000 healthcare workers on innovative models to increase testing, ART initiation and adherence, and viral load testing. USAID and OPHID will support the development of national level policy, strategy, and healthcare guidelines, which the Ministry of Health and Child Care will cascade to the whole country.
Through a one-year program, USAID and the Center for Sexual Health, HIV and AIDS Research (CeSHHAR) will help close the remaining gaps in HIV prevention and care for sex workers in the five hotspot districts of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, and Masvingo, and three border posts with Mozambique, Botswana, and Zambia. Working directly with female sex workers, USAID will reduce new HIV infections through increasing the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), condoms, and other emerging prevention technologies.
“PEPFAR’s efforts to fight HIV will ultimately help Zimbabwe meet critical AIDS treatment targets. Our support breaks barriers and closes remaining gaps in sustaining and accelerating HIV prevention and care,” stated Ambassador Brian A. Nichols.
Since PEPFAR’s inception in Zimbabwe in 2006, U.S. investments of more than US$1.2 billion have led to an 80 percent decline in the annual number of HIV-related deaths, with more than 1.15 million Zimbabweans currently on lifesaving antiretroviral medicines (ARVs).