THE United States government has pledged to continue its HIV funding for African countries at the same levels, despite a raft of cost-cutting measures introduced by the Donald Trump administration since it came into power late last year.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr told journalists last week that the US government would maintain the current HIV funding levels.
“We are very heartened that our Congress just passed the budget within the last few days and our Pepfar (President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) funding is remaining constant. In fact, it will likely grow to almost $150 million next year,” he said.
“Despite tremendous success in reducing HIV incidence in Zimbabwe from 2,63% to 0,48% since 2000, we still need to educate people, especially the young. And the way to reach the young is through music. You are not just preaching to them, you are helping them to have a good time and see that, like the young people who I just met who were born with HIV, what vibrant lives they live,” the US ambassador said.
Since 2006, Pepfar has provided nearly $800 million to Zimbabwe for HIV interventions, focusing on new and renewed efforts in geographic areas with the highest burden of disease.
“These areas are home to at least 80% of Zimbabweans living with HIV, and receive a comprehensive package of HIV services tailored by age, sex and risk for their populations,” said Pepfar Zimbabwe co-ordinator, Mark Troger.
In 2016, Pepfar reached over 1,9 million individuals with HIV testing and counselling services and expects to reach over 2,5 million individuals this year through revised strategies.