compiled by Zainab Turay
The United States Ambassador, Maria Brewer has stated that the United States joins Sierra Leone in observing World AIDS Day 2020 on December 1st.
According to her annually on this date since 1988 they as emissaries pause to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS, to reflect upon the global journey towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and to renew their shared commitment to an AIDS-free future.
Based on what she revealed, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States has saved more than 18 million lives worldwide and prevented millions of HIV infections.
She intimated that working together with their partners in 54 countries, including Sierra Leone, which is the U.S. latest partner PEPFAR country, they have moved the HIV/AIDS pandemic from crisis towards control – community by community, country by country.
She highlighted that in Sierra Leone, an estimated 1.6% of the population – approximately 78,000 people – lives with HIV. Furthering that seventeen years ago when PEPFAR began, HIV was a death sentence in many parts of the world.
“Now, for the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to control a pandemic without a vaccine or a cure. But to go forward, we must go together. Partnerships are the cornerstone of PEPFAR’s success, and we need all sectors and diverse partners working together to achieve our collective goals,” she pointed out in a straightforward matter.
These goals include increased impact and enhanced resilience for all. As there is no vaccine or cure, epidemic control is needed to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. PEPFAR is dedicated to ensuring that all ages, genders, and at-risk populations know their HIV status, receive life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services, and are virally suppressed if they are living with HIV.
More specifically, the epidemic control is achieved when 95% of people living with HIV know their status, 95% of these HIV positive people are on continuous treatment, and 95% of those on treatment achieve viral suppression, meaning that the virus is not replicating and thus cannot spread to others. Known as the HIV treatment cascade, this approach emphasizes a comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS that promotes sustainable results.
Strengthening the HIV treatment cascade is critical to achieving widespread impact, which is why they are innovating at the community level to reach populations that are often being left behind, including young women, younger men, and other key populations. According to them they are working closely with local partners to realize a future where HIV is a manageable chronic disease, and where new infections are rare.