The PEPFAR plan (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) for 2017-2020 was released this September. The United States continues to be the global leader in the fight to end HIV/AIDS worldwide. The PEPFAR plan includes three main goals that the government hopes to achieve in more than 50 countries. The first is to continue life-saving treatment while making necessary services available. The second is to provide more services for orphans and other vulnerable children who are immediately affected when their caretaker dies from this disease. The final goal is to make significant progress towards controlling the disease in the 13 countries most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS by 2020.
PEPFAR is the largest bilateral donor to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite saving many lives, the PEPFAR plan also includes reducing the future costs needed to control the HIV/AIDS response. There are five main steps that PEPFAR plans to take:
- Accelerate optimized HIV testing and treatment strategies. This will target men under the age of 35, as more than half of men under 35 do not know if they have the disease, which contributes greatly to the epidemic in young women and young men.
- Expand HIV protection measures by focusing on young men and women through innovative and successful programs called DREAMS for girls and VMMC for boys.
- Use of granular epidemiological and funding data to increase program impact and effectiveness.
- Renew engagements with faith-based organizations as well as the private sector to improve efforts towards epidemic control.
- Strengthened policy and financial contributions by the partner governments in the disease response.
PEPFAR is a crucial part of the process to gain control over the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The UNAIDS Facts for 2017 warns that although progress is being made in 69 countries, the efforts towards fighting the viral transmission are not happening quickly enough to meet global targets. The reports also stated that there were 36.7 million people living with HIV last year. The epidemic is declining, but more initiatives like PEPFAR are needed to bring it under control.
– Chloe Turner