US hails Africa's anti-AIDS fight

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - New HIV infections In Africa  have declined nearly 33 percent over the past decade, according to US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.

Godec said in Mombasa Sunday, the World AIDS Day, that during the same period, HIV and AIDS-related mortality has decreased by 30 percent from its peak in 2005.

In sub-Saharan Africa, progress has been even more marked, with new infections and mortality down even more dramatically, the Ambassador said in a news dispatch from the US Embassy in Nairobi.

Landmark scientific advances, together with effective programmes offer hope that the world may soon see an AIDS-free generation, the envoy said in remarks as the World celebrated the 25th World AIDS Day.

"I am proud to say that the United States has made an important contribution to the fight against this disease, working through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, commonly known as PEPFAR," Ambassador Godec said. PEPFAR was launched in 2003.  

In 2003, AIDS was a terrible threat in Africa.  It was a death sentence for those who contracted it.  

It threatened to destroy the very foundations of society, to create millions of orphans, to reverse economic development, to leave countries mired in poverty and social breakdown, said the envoy.

Worldwide, nearly 50 million people have received testing and counseling. PEPFAR directly supports more than five million people on antiretroviral treatment, a three-fold increase in only four years.

Also, PEPFAR-funded research has helped to dramatically cut the rate of mother-to-child transmission from a high of 35 percent.

In Kenya, the numbers – and the progress – are equally dramatic.  

Over the past five years, the United States has spent US$2.5 billion, or 215 billion Kenya shillings, in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  

The money is used in providing anti-retroviral drugs to pregnant women to stop the transmission of HIV from mother to baby during birth.  

PEPFAR helps supply 600,000 Kenyans with anti-retroviral drugs every day.  And it helps ensure the testing, each year, of millions of Kenyans so they know their HIV status.

As a result of the work of PEPFAR, Kenya, as well as 12 other countries, has reached a tipping point in the fight against new infections.  That means the number of new infections is below the increase in new patients on HIV drugs.

But he reminded the audience, who included Kenya's First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, that reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation requires a coordinated effort that brings together state and non state actors.

"As impressive as the successes have been so far, there is still much work to be done. We must do more to assist groups that are particularly vulnerable, including youth, women, and girls. Stigma and discrimination continue to limit access to treatment and care to those in need," he said.
-0- PANA DJ/SEG 1Dec2013

01 december 2013 20:25:22




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