US gives Zim $95m for Aids drugs

HARARE - The United States is to give Zimbabwe $95 million to support the free distribution of Aids drugs following “significant progress” in Harare’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

The annual funds will be channelled through the US President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief (Pepfar), a statement said yesterday.

Some 700 000 people receive free anti-retroviral treatment in public hospitals in Zimbabwe, where 13 percent of the 13 million population has HIV, the virus that can lead to Aids.

“The US government supports the government of Zimbabwe in the goal of achieving an Aids-free generation through the scale-up of a combination of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support efforts in areas where the burden of HIV prevalence and of people living with HIV are the highest,” the US embassy said.

“Voluntary medical male circumcision and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV are some of the HIV prevention strategies that Pepfar funds support,” the statement added.

This is the third year in succession that the US has given Zimbabwe $95 million to fund HIV and Aids programmes in accordance with the country’s operational plan for 2016 in alignment to the Zimbabwe national strategic plan for 2011 to 2015 and the UNAids fast track strategy.

Outgoing United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton said it was pleasing to see that a disease that once seemed unstoppable was in retreat.

“We are very gratified to see Pepfar’s evolution from an emergency response in 2004 to a sustainable initiative in 2015,” he said.

“The Pepfar contribution to reaching the goal of an Aids-free generation is already being felt: A disease that at one time seemed to be unstoppable is now in retreat.

“We are committed to continuing our robust support through Pepfar to the national response to HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe has an estimated 1,4 million people living with HIV, with an estimated 69 105 new infections and 905 368 people in need of anti-retroviral treatment, according to the National Aids Council December 2014 statistics.

The United States embassy said as a direct result of Pepfar’s continuous support, by the end of 2014, 160 000 people were on anti-retroviral therapy and receiving HIV-related services and care.

Since 2006, Pepfar has provided over $650 million to Zimbabwe, including $95 million for each of the past three years, or $285 million total, for HIV and Aids interventions.

“The allocation of Pepfar resources is focused on achieving the greatest impact in epidemic control in a short space of time,” the embassy statement said.

“Resources will target 36 districts for increased scale-up and will focus efforts on populations in which the numbers of new infections and of people living with HIV are highest. Efforts to sustain key care and treatment activities in 53 high volume sites across the entire country will continue.”

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