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Towards an HIV-free world

Through transparency, accountability and the power of partnership, we can accelerate progress toward reaching our goal of an HIV/AIDS free world

G. Kathleen Hill
6 December 2017, 7:54am
We are at an unprecedented moment in the global HIV/AIDS response. For the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to change the very course of a pandemic by controlling it without a vaccine or a cure. Controlling the pandemic will lay the groundwork for eliminating or eradicating HIV, which we hope will be possible through the future scientific breakthroughs of an effective HIV vaccine and cure.

The US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has helped not only save and improve millions of lives, but also transformed the global HIV/AIDS response. The latest PEPFAR data from its Population-based HIV Impact Assessments (PHIAs) show that 5 high-burden African countries are already approaching control of their HIV/AIDS epidemics, something that would have once seemed impossible.

Building on this progress, at the 2017 United Nations General Assembly, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson launched the PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020).

The Strategy demonstrates both the courage of our convictions and the boldness of our ambitions. It reaffirms that the US government, through PEPFAR, will continue to support HIV/AIDS efforts toward achieving epidemic control in more than 50 countries, ensuring access to HIV services by all populations, including the most vulnerable and at-risk groups.

The Strategy also sets a bold course for accelerated PEPFAR-supported implementation in a subset of 13 high-burden countries which have the greatest potential to achieve HIV/AIDS epidemic control by 2020. PEPFAR will support these 13 countries to reach 90 percent of people living with HIV who know their status to access treatment, and 90 percent of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads across all ages, genders, and at-risk groups in the next three years.

Epidemic control will only be attained when these targets are met for adults and children. All PEPFAR-supported countries will benefit from the lessons learned in these 13 countries and will show how effective service delivery and the rapid implementation of key policies can allow programs and funding to deliver results.

The US government continues to lead the way in the global HIV/AIDS response. But no one country or entity alone can end the AIDS pandemic. We are proud to partner with partner governments, the private sector, philanthropic organisations, multilateral institutions, civil society and faith-based organizations, people living with HIV, and many others in this work. Through this collective effort, we also expect to reduce the future costs required to sustain the HIV/AIDS response.

The innovative scientific discovery and program implementation that the US government supports has fueled progress toward controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in several high-burden countries, laying the groundwork for what can be accomplished with an eventual HIV vaccine and/or cure.  During Malta’s presidency of the European Commission, Malta hosted leading experts on HIV prevention and control, from across the EU, during a technical meeting that focused on how to fast track the end of AIDS in the EU.

The experts discussed how Europe can improve its response to HIV and achieve both the targets outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on HIV/AIDS, and those adopted in the Global Health Sector Strategy at the World Health Assembly. Participants discussed practical evidence-based interventions and strategies, shared achievements and examples of good practices, and identified solutions to common challenges.

Through transparency, accountability and the power of partnership, we can accelerate progress toward reaching our goal of an HIV/AIDS free world.

 

G. Kathleen Hill is the US ambassador to Malta

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