USAID commits sustained funds to fight HIV/AIDS

THE United States of America through its US Agency for International Development (USAID) will continue to fund HIV/AIDS programmes in Tanzania in the race to identify and close gaps in the fight of the ailment.

Taking the stance during the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 20 years celebrations in Iringa Region recently, USAID Mission Director, Craig Hart hailed the government right into the grassroots for cooperation in improving the lives of the people, especially those living with HIV.

He noted that since 2003, the US government has provided more than 6 billion US dollar (approximately 14tri/-), including 450 million US dollar (1.124bn/-) in 2022 fiscal year to fight HIV/AIDS in the country.

“In 2003, fever than 1,000 Tanzanians were receiving HIV treatment. Today, over 1.5 million people in Tanzania are benefiting from this life-threatening treatment, 98 per cent of the people living with the virus.

“We are inspired by the strong commitment from the government of Tanzania and the dedication and resilience of the team on the ground that tirelessly works at the national level,” he added.

One of the implementing partners, FHI 360 through the Meeting and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) project in collaboration with the Tanzanian government with funding from the PEPFAR narrated how their strategic technical assistance and direct service helps vulnerable populations, including adolescent girls and young women  to fight the scourge.

Brenda Ogwang, EpiC Project Director said that the project increases access to HIV preventive services, serotesting and enrolment to care and treatment services to ensure attainment and maintenance of epidemic control and the vulnerable and priority populations.

He added: “We strengthen HIV program management, health information systems and human resources for hearth and financial systems.

Equally, we improve Civil Society Organisations’ capacities in the implementation of key vulnerable populations programs in Tanzania.”

“The aim with the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is to see what I call the 95-95-95 targets- calling for 95 per cent of all people living with HIV to know their HIV status, 95 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 95 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy and suppression by 2030.”

He said that they implement HIV prevention, care, and treatment in the community targeting key and vulnerable populations by providing them with comprehensive and integrated HIV intervention service package of behavioural, biomedical, and structural.

Elaborating, the Director said that the project uses peer-led approach to identify and reach targeted populations including adolescent girls and young women, trained peer educators, where they conduct hotspot mapping, establish size estimation, prepare outreach plans for demand creation, provide health education sessions (SBC) and linkages to biomedical services at the community.

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