Diplomatic posts in PEPFAR-supported countries worldwide commemorated World AIDS Day this year with a variety of activities to highlight the next phase of the global HIV response and raise awareness of the challenges faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV), especially during COVID-19.
The U.S. Embassy in Botswana com launched a campaign involving social media and in-person events to commemorate World AIDS Day and promote solutions needed to eliminate HIV/AIDS in the country. The Embassy perimeter walls were decorated with red ribbons and banners to mark the day. U.S. Ambassador Craig Cloud then sent a congratulatory message to the Botswanan government for becoming the first African country with a high HIV burden to be certified by the WHO for achieving an important milestone on the path to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Ambassador Cloud then reiterated the U.S. government’s commitment to supporting Botswana’s HIV response through PEPFAR and highlighted the program’s financial and technical support of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) prevention programming, which has reduced the rate of MTCT from 4.4% in 2009 to 0.56% in 2020. The following day, the Ambassador attended the screening of a film produced by a Peace Corps Volunteer that tells the story of activist Stanley Monageng who walked 370 kilometers to demonstrate to residents of rural communities that PLHIV can lead healthy, productive, and happy lives with the help of antiretroviral therapy.
With the ongoing challenges of the current political situation in Ethiopia, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa chose not to hold any in-person activities. Instead, the Embassy launched a limited social media campaign. With PEPFAR’s assistance, it published an op-ed on the Embassy website that highlights the tremendous progress Ethiopia has achieved in its HIV response, especially during the ongoing political crisis.
The U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana, commemorated World AIDS Day this year with an event attended by over 2,200 people, including high-level dignitaries and civil society stakeholders. U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan gave an address in praise of the Government of Ghana’s response to COVID-19 and highlighted the role health sector capacity built with PEPFAR support played in this response. In a recorded speech, Ghana President Akuffo Addo discussed Ghana’s National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) 2021-2025 to reach the 95-95-95 SDG targets. Following the remarks, the PEPFAR team set up a booth so that attendees could learn more about PEPFAR and the next phase of Ghana’s HIV response.
U.S. Embassy in Kingston, along with UNAIDS, municipal and national government officials, and civil society organizations commemorated World AIDS Day 2021 with over a week of events aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness and countering stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. This year marks a milestone for many organizations working on the HIV epidemic in Jamaica. Throughout the week speakers celebrated the progress that has been made over the past 30 years while stressing the need to make advances on prevention, treatment, and the enabling environment to ensure continued gains. While growth in new infections has declined, as have AIDS-related deaths, less than 50 percent of the 32,000 estimated people living with HIV are on treatment, threatening Jamaica’s ability to eliminate its AIDS epidemic by 2030. As one of the main donors to Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS response, the U.S. government, via PEPFAR and Embassy Kingston, remains an important voice in advocating for adjustments to strengthen Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS response and will continue to do so in concert with the Jamaican government and other stakeholders.
The Namibia Ministry of Health and Social Services, with the help of the U.S. Embassy, commemorated World AIDS Day this year by holding an event in Kunene, Outjo District, that has long been underserved with HIV services. The Ministry of Health chose the national World AIDS Day theme of “Access to HIV Health Care in Namibia Amidst COVID-19” to raise awareness of the challenges PLHIV are facing in Namibia because of COVID-19, such as access to HIV treatment due to lockdowns and strained health services. The event was widely publicized to communicate the availability of HIV and other health services during COVID-19 with the hope that more PLHIV remain in treatment. Following the event, the U.S Embassy Chief of Mission took part in a prime-time current affairs television show, Talk of the Nation, to discuss the U.S. government’s support in the fight against HIV in Namibia.
The episode is available on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/www.nbcnews.na/videos/470919371031519/
The U.S. Mission in Mozambique commemorated World AIDS Day on December 1 with an extensive outreach campaign.In Inhambane Province on the central coast, U.S. Ambassador Dennis W. Hearne joined Mozambican Minister of Gender and Social Action Nyeleti Mondlane to honor the lives lost to HIV/AIDS, highlight U.S. support, and recommit to working with partners to respond to HIV/AIDS. In the southern province of Gaza, DCM Abigail Dressel joined Mozambican First Lady Isaura Nyusi to raise awareness about PEPFAR’s efforts to work alongside Mozambican partners to respond to the national HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly among children living with HIV. The CDC Country Director and PEPFAR Coordinator also participated in public outreach for World AIDS Day, and media reported widely on U.S. support for those living with HIV/AIDS, particularly in the campaign against stigma against HIV-positive individuals and equitable access to treatment. An internal event organized by PEPFAR staff and directed towards Mission staff was widely attended by Locally Employed staff. As HIV/AIDS remains a major public health challenge in Mozambique, the events highlighted significant progress and the steady U.S. commitment.
The U.S. Embassy in South Sudan commemorated World AIDS Day with public events and media engagements throughout Juba. Then-Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) Haven Cruz-Hubbard, who is also the Mission Director for USAID, noted the important work of PEPFAR in South Sudan to an audience of 500 at a World AIDS Day program that the Government of South Sudan hosted in coordination with local and international partners. Officials from USAID and CDC held a virtual event at the University of Juba to describe U.S. efforts to combat HIV in the country. U.S. Embassy and USAID officials then appeared on major live radio stations to highlight joint U.S.-South Sudanese initiatives to combat HIV and address stigma. According to information provided by the Government of South Sudan, nearly 10,000 South Sudanese have died from AIDS. An estimated 180,000 people live with HIV in South Sudan, out of which 44,000 are receiving life-saving treatment as of September 2021.
This year to commemorate World AIDS Day, the Government of Tanzania (GoT) hosted a week-long series of events in Mbeya starting on November 24, 2021, and culminating on World AIDS Day (December 1) with the theme of “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa attended the commemoration event and served as Guest of Honor, which elevated the event and attracted nationwide attention to the continued need to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania. U.S> Ambassador Wright visited activities supported by PEPFAR in Mbeya and gave remarks at the World AIDS Day culmination event. He reiterated the strong 60-year U.S.-Tanzania partnership and the support Tanzania has received from PEPFAR since 2003 totaling $5.4 billion. While Tanzania has made great strides towards epidemic control since PEPFAR’s inception, there are key areas where progress is needed, especially to slow the rate of new infections. During World AIDS Day events, the Ambassador emphasized the need for increased GoT ownership and domestic resource allocation for HIV/AIDS to ensure sustainability.
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe commemorated World AIDS Day this year by recognizing 12 “PEPFAR Heroes” who have made notable contributions to improving the lives of PLHIV in Zimbabwe. Out of more than 100 nominations, the public voted for the top 12 heroes. The heroes honored included a nurse living openly with HIV who inspires her clients to get tested for HIV and start treatment; a journalist whose stories on HIV have helped shed light on issues relevant to key populations and marginalized communities; a researcher who led the first and second Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) surveys; and a fearless advocate for Zimbabwe’s transgender and intersex communities. In addition, the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) delivered remarks at a national World AIDS Day event in Chinhoyi, and the Embassy published a World AIDS Day op-ed and held a round table discussion with Zimbabwean Government officials.