The US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) will contribute about N$1.5 billion (US$89 million) to Namibia in 2021 for HIV/Aids programmes.
The funding is an increase of about N$200 million from the N$1.3 billion (US$81 million) that the programme provided this year.
US Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson yesterday said the N$1.5 billion will move US-Namibian efforts another step toward reaching the HIV epidemic control. She described Namibia as being a global leader in nearing epidemic control, saying 95% of the people with HIV know their status and are on treatment.
Further, she said, 92% of the people on treatment take their medications regularly and are ‘virally suppressed,’ meaning the virus is not detectable and cannot be transmitted.
The 2021 the Pepfar funding, which starts with the US fiscal year on 1 October this year, will support the Ministry of Health and Social Services to move those percentages even higher, with a goal of reaching the UNAIDS target of 95-95-95.
This include 95% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 95% of people who know their status on treatment, and 95% of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.
UNAIDS has ambitious targets of ending the Aids pandemic by 2030 and prevent nearly 28 million new HIV infections and 21 million Aids-related deaths around the world.
The US embassy’s Pepfar coordinator Carey Spear said the HIV programmes that the N$1.5 billion will support include the DREAMS programme, which will double its budget and triple the number of adolescent girls and young women it works with to keep them free from HIV.
Focusing on HIV prevention in adolescent girls and young women, Pepfar will double its investment to N$340 million (US$20 million) in 2021 to triple the number of girls, reaching 64 000 and increase the districts covered from five to 9. “These girls are the future of Namibia; DREAMS help girls realise their potential in safer relationships, with greater economic opportunities and with better health. It surrounds adolescent girls and young women with critical support needed to keep them safe and HIV free, helping make the first HIV-free generation of Namibia,” Spear stated.
DREAMS will take place not only in Katima Mulilo, Tsumeb, Omuthiya, Onandjokwe and Windhoek districts but also in Rundu, Andara, Nyangana and Oshakati.
Pepfar will support the health ministry to keep over 200 000 people living with HIV on treatment, most of whom will be eligible to take the advanced TLD medication.
TLD medication has fewer side effects, works faster to suppress HIV, and is less likely to develop resistance by HIV than other HIV medications. The US government has invested approximately N$27 billion (US$1.6 billion) in HIV treatment and prevention in Namibia since 2005.
The programme was launched in 2003 by former US president George W. Bush and has provided more than US$80 billion in cumulative funding for HIV/Aids treatment, prevention, and research since its inception, making it the largest global health programme focused on a single disease in history.